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Kingston Hookah Lounge ordered closed for breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Orders

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, has ordered the closure of 420 Hookah Lounge Jamaica at Manor Park Plaza in Kingston for breaches of Orders promulgated under the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two employees from the establishment were arrested and charged by police on Sunday for breaches of the curfew order.

“The establishment has been ordered closed for 14 days for breaches. During this period, the operators will be required to obtain the necessary permits, including certification from the Jamaica Fire Brigade, to support their operations,” the Minister explained.

“There are other entities under our microscope and the same treatment will be meted out to them. We have further learnt that there are nightclubs operating under the guise of restaurants and lounges where the prescribed guidelines are being flouted. The names of these entities have been forwarded to the Jamaica Constabulary Force for further investigations.”

The public is being reminded that no approvals have been granted for the reopening of nightclubs. Community bars, taverns, sports bars, lounges, and restaurants can operate within the outlined Covid-19 protocols.

Minister McKenzie has also announced the creation of a new enforcement team to ensure that all entities for which the Ministry is responsible, adhere to the provisions of the DRMA Orders. The team has started work in the Kingston Metropolitan Area.

“The Government has issued a series of Orders since March, when COVID-19 was first detected in Jamaica. We have witnessed varying levels of compliance with these Orders by entities as well as by the general public, and the police have been working to enforce them, while our Agencies such as the Social Development Commission (SDC) have been instrumental in developing protocols and measuring compliance.”

The Ministry’s special enforcement team will comprise personnel from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, SDC and the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation.

“This new initiative will not replace the police. It is intended to complement the efforts of the Constabulary, which is already heavily involved in this new COVID-19 dimension of policing, as well as performing its normal duties,” the Local Government and Rural Development Minister said.

“The Government is determined to do everything possible to manage the pandemic in a way that ensures that the new normal has a space for everyone to thrive. This is exactly why we need full compliance with all protocols, so that public health and economic recovery can co-exist, to the benefit of our citizens.”

Reggae Mill Closed, But Other Businesses at Devon House To Remain Open

Following his announcement of the closure of Devon House effective today, Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie has disclosed that only the Reggae Mill, the business tenant at the centre of the violation of COVID-19 protocols, will remain closed.
“In addition to announcing the closure yesterday, I indicated that a meeting would be held today with the management of Devon House. That meeting was held, and the decision has been made that the remaining 25 shops that operate out of Devon House should not be penalized for the offence committed at the Reggae Mill venue. Accordingly, they will remain open, but the Reggae Mill is now closed for breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Order.
“The Reggae Mill will be closed for two weeks. Additionally, no Place of Amusement licence will be granted for four to six weeks. The operations of Devon House will be closely monitored to see to it that the management of the entity takes all necessary steps to ensure that there are no further breaches of the protocols. As I indicated yesterday, the police have been provided with a list of venues operating in breach of the Disaster Risk Management Order, and they are being investigated with a view to prosecution.
“I will continue to appeal to everyone to obey all the COVID-19 protocols. We are in the middle of a pandemic, and the Government is resolute that no violations of the public health protocols will be tolerated. Once again, I must say how encouraged I am by the civic-minded Jamaicans who are reporting the violators, and we will deal with the breaches as they are disclosed to us.”

Minister of Local Government Urges All Community Bar Owners and Operators to Obey All Rules When They Are Allowed to Re- Open on May 19

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Honourable Desmond McKenzie is urging owners and operators of community bars and taverns to fully comply with the requirements governing their re-opening, which was announced earlier this week.

“It is important to emphasize that this re-opening period applies only to community bars and taverns. Sports Bars, nightclubs and other places of amusement, where alcohol would normally be sold, will remain closed as per the Disaster Risk Management Order.

“I wish to remind the proprietors of the community bars and taverns that the reopening of their operations is conditional, and at the end of the two-week period that starts on May 19, the levels of compliance by owners and operators island-wide will be assessed by the teams that we already have on the ground. Thereafter, a decision will be made as to whether community bar operations will continue. Based on some of the feedback we have been having, it is clear that there will be a strong effort to comply with the distancing and sanitary protocols, but we know that there are some who will try to defy them, or comply only with the rules they consider most convenient. I am encouraging all stakeholders to obey the rules governing the re-opening, as this will be to everyone’s benefit.

“I also want to make it clear that this Administration respects the judgment of our entrepreneurs. If you own a community bar or tavern, and you believe that due to health or financial reasons, it is not wise to re-open on May 19, we fully understand and support your decision. What we are seeking is full co-operation from those owners and operators who intend to re-open their community bars and taverns come May 19.

“The Government fully understands the need for our people to earn a proper living and to regain their financial footing, and that is exactly why full compliance with the rules is critical. Those who breach the protocols will not be allowed to remain open and threaten the complete closure of community bars across the island.

“I ask that our community of bar and tavern owners take advantage of this opportunity in the prescribed way, as we work to restore our economy even as we battle COVID-19.”

REQUIREMENTS GOVERNING THE RE-OPENING OF COMMUNITY BARS AND TAVERNS

1. Opening Hours: 11:00 am each day to one hour before that day’s curfew begins.

2. Social and physical distancing must be maintained.

3. No more than five people including the Bartender shall be in the bar at any one time.

4. Patrons who enter the bars must wear face masks.

5. Bartenders must wear face masks, and are strongly encouraged to wear face shields and protective clothing.

6. All seating arrangements outside the bars must be maintained, that is physical distancing of six feet between each single seating unit.

7. There shall be no stools, no benches, chairs or tables for people within the bar.

8. There shall be no group games, dominoes etc. inside the bar or on the premises occupying the bar.

9. Poker boxes and other gambling and gaming instruments must be placed at least six feet apart to ensure social and physical distancing.

10. There shall be no events that promote social gathering such as parties.

11. Bar doors and windows must remain open during the operating hours.

12. Each bar must have a sanitization station for the proper washing of hands, and must maintain sanitation protocols that will be set out by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

13. All bars should display proper signage to advise people of the protocols under which they will operate.

Covid-19 Measures: Special Feeding Programme for the Homeless

KINGSTON, Jamaica (March 30, 2020): The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development has embarked on a special feeding programme in the Corporate Area to benefit the homeless.

The initiative is among the raft of measures designed to address the country’s vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Minister Desmond McKenzie breakfast will be provided daily between 9:00am and 10:00am, and dinner served from 2:00pm to 4:00pm.

The special intervention – being organized through the municipal corporations – began in the Corporate Area on Sunday, March 29 where a total of 350 persons were fed across the locations of Downtown Kingston, Cross Roads, Half-Way-Tree, Papine and New Kingston.

“This feeding programme will complement what we are presently doing in the other parishes where our drop-in centres are providing daily meals and supplies for persons living on the streets,” the Minister explained.

The special feeding programme is being funded by a J$150 million allocation from the Ministry of Finance and Planning, as well as a percentage of the Local Government and Community Development Ministry’s budget.

The homeless will receive two cooked meals from Sunday to Friday over the next two months. These persons will also get care packages with ready-to-eat items for use on Saturdays.

“The Corporate Area poses the greatest challenge in all of this because we don’t have a facility outside of the Marie Atkins Night Shelter, which is already bursting at the seams,” noted Minister McKenzie.

“We are also working assiduously to find a location where we can take some of these persons off the streets especially in the Corporate Area on a temporary bass.”
Jamaica’s homeless population numbers over 2,000 persons – the majority of whom are found in the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew.

Additionally, the Government continues to receive support for the special feeding programme from stakeholders including the Food For The Poor and the Salvation Army.

COVID-19: New guidelines for the beauty industry

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Government has announced new restrictions to guide the beauty industry as the country adapt new measures to contain the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Effective March 25, operators of beauty salons, barbershops, hairdressers, barbers and cosmetologists are only allowed to conduct business from 10am to 5pm daily.
Additionally, barbers and hairdressers must not have more than two people waiting in a salon at any time.

The new restrictions have been published in the The Jamaica Gazette Supplement, Proclamations, Rules and Regulations – DRM (Enforcement Measures – No.2.) dated March 24, 2020.

Public gatherings are now limited to 10 people and public markets will continue to observe the 6:00am to 2:00pm opening hours.

Workers in the public sector aged 65 years and older must work from home except where special permission is granted in the March 24 order. Other persons who can work from home should continue to do so for a further 14 days from March 25 to April 7, 2020.

Persons who are 75 years and older are required to remain at home for 14 days. There will be some exemptions.
Schools will remain close until the end of the Easter term.
Every person who entered Jamaica on and after March 18 must remain in quarantine for a further 14 days with effect from March 25.

Ministry outlines special additional measures to fight Covid-19

KINGSTON, Jamaica: A special series of policies, programmes and measures have been put together as the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development’s structured and initial response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The measures, which were agreed to by the Mayors of the 14 municipalities, are aimed at securing the health integrity of our vulnerable population in our infirmaries as well as those who interact with them; safeguarding the indoor and outdoor poor on the Poor Relief List, as well as safeguarding the homeless.

Minister Desmond McKenzie said that the homeless street population, which numbers more than 200 persons, will be provided for.

“We will also be assisting our homeless population, over 50% of which is in the Corporate Area. Drop-In Centres are active in all parishes, and the homeless who go there will be given meals as well as care packages,” he outlined.

“They will also undergo the sanitization procedures, and their temperatures will be taken. We will also be reaching out as far as is possible to those who congregate in known areas outside of the Drop-In Centres, to care for them in this way.”

The Municipal Corporations will also be assisted with an overall J$16 million in funding to sanitize the areas where the homeless tend to congregate.

Minister McKenzie also emphasized that J$50m has also been allocated for the municipalities to provide water to communities affected by severe drought conditions, and to ensure that its minor water supply systems are operational and have adequate amount of the commodity.

The new opening hours for the public markets across the country will remain from 6am to 2pm. They will also observe the new crowd restriction of no more than 10 persons to be gathered in any one place.

Distinct protocols have also been established at all infirmaries and golden age homes where both employees and service providers will go through security and special screening including temperature checks before they are allowed entry to these facilities.

Come March 30, a special sanitization programme will be introduced at these facilities over three days, through a collaboration between the municipal corporations; Jamaica Fire Brigade, Jamaica Defence Force, National Solid Waste Management Authority, and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management.

“The Municipal Corporations will double their normal cleaning staff during this period, and the Ministry is providing funding for the procurement of cleansing and related material worth an overall $41.5 million,” Minister McKenzie concluded.

Special Covid-19 measures at the Ministry’s facilities

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development has announced a raft of containment measures for operations within its portfolio responsibility in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Access to the state-operated 13 infirmaries and two golden age homes have been restricted and no new patient will be admitted to these facilities over a 30-day period.

“The virus has proven to be devastating on senior members of the population. We are taking steps to protect our senior citizens against Covid-19,” said Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie.

“We are taking measures to safeguard the over 2500 residents and staff at these facilities. The restriction on visits to infirmaries is critical and the necessary precautionary measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of all. We are dealing are dealing with a population of persons who fall in the category of persons most vulnerable to the disease.”

To date, Jamaica has at least 15 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19.

The Minister also gave instructions for isolation areas to be identified at these facilities.

“Some infirmaries already have these facilities of that nature but for those that do not have, we will commence construction immediately, working with the Ministry of Health and Wellness on the guidelines for establishing these facilities.”

The Ministry will also be using the town criers in the different communities to sensitize and provide updates for persons who do not have access to social media and or the internet.

Temporary workers will also be hired to enable the continuous cleaning and sanitization of the infirmaries and golden-age homes daily.

The public markets across the island will also come into special focus as the respective municipal corporations, which are charged with its operations, will undertake sanitization exercises. The markets will now operate from 6am to 2pm during the special containment measures announced by the government.

Prime Minister, Most Honourable Andrew Holness has also directed Minister McKenzie to truck water to communities that are outside of the National Water Commission’s utility areas and are served by the minor water supply systems

“In the Ministry of Local Government, we have started to create what we call water shops in several parishes and with this added responsibility, we are giving the assurance that we will work collectively to ensure that those communities that are desperately in need of the precious commodity will have it,” added Minister McKenzie.

New measures announced by the Government to help reduce the spread of COVID-19

The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister, yesterday announced some additional measures to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Please take note of these measures listed below:

  • All Travellers to Jamaica from countries where there is local transmission of COVID-19 will be self-quarantined for 14 days.
  • Hospital visits are now limited to one person per patient once per day.
  • There should be no gathering of more than 20 persons in public spaces. If there is a gathering, individuals must maintain the required 3-feet distance from each other. (Weddings and Funerals included).
  • Bars, night clubs and other places of amusement are to be closed. Restaurants and corner shops will remain open due to the essential service they provide; however, they must adhere to the sanitation protocol stipulated by the Government.
  • Markets will now be opened from 6am to 2pm
  • Jamaica Urban Transit Company and Montego Bay Metro buses are required to carry seated passengers only.
  • Taxis are required to carry one less passenger than their licence allows.
  • The Government will now implement a policy in the public sector, starting March 18, 2020 that requires all non-essential work to be done from home. This policy will last for seven days.