Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness, says Cabinet has started to promote the full reopening of certain sectors, starting with agriculture and construction.
“Last week, we announced the exemptions for the agricultural sector; we expect the agricultural sector to turn out in full force and we have announced the exemptions for the construction sector,” the Prime Minister said during a virtual press conference on Monday (May 4) at the Office of the Prime Minister.
He indicated that letters were sent off on Monday to all the agencies under the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, informing them that effort must be made to clear the backlog for approval of all building projects and to increase the approval rate.
“We need to get our economy started again, resuscitated and rearing to go again, even in COVID. But we will do so in a smart way, we will do so in a measured way and we will never sacrifice the public’s health,” Holness said.
Holness, while noting that Jamaica has never really closed its economy, said Cabinet has been examining the impact of the measures taken, which have been “considerable” but are necessary to contain and control the spread of COVID-19.
He said that generally, the curfew hours have worked very well, despite the impact on the quick-service industry, which includes restaurants and fast-food outlets.
“The curfew measures, however, by virtue of limiting movement, would have significantly curtailed the spread of the virus and we will be contemplating adjustments to the curfew hours. But, again, it all has to be based on what the science is telling us, what the public health advice is, and we have to weigh that in the balance of what is in the public interest,” Holness said.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister noted that the country now has a better understanding of the measures that must be implemented to control the disease and has increased its testing capacity as well as the ability of hospitals to treat with COVID-19 patients.