Gov't gets support for stricter COVID measures

Professor Peter Figueroa and Donovan Wignal
The Government is getting support for the decision to put in place stricter COVID restrictions in response to rising infections and the reproductive rate of the virus.
Public health expert Professor Peter Figueroa says it is clear that the country is seeing the beginning of a serious surge in cases which could be due to the Delta variant.
Professor Figueroa says he welcomes the adjustments to the curfew hours, however, he is still concerned that the capacity limit for establishments such as churches, bars, restaurants and gyms was not lowered further.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Monday said the capacity limit for these establishments will move from 70 to 50 per cent.
However, Professor Figueroa believes it should be about 30 per cent.
"When the minister eased restrictions, I didn't think we should have gone over 50 per cent because if you think of any indoor setting - cinema, a church or a restaurant or an entertainment site - when you have 50 per cent capacity, I don't see how you can maintain physical distancing with so many people in that setting. And once it's air conditioning and the air is recirculating, it means persons are at risk," Professor Figueroa explained.  
He is recommending the establishment of a taskforce to support the various sectors in reducing the risk of infection.
"I don't think it can be a process where you simply leave it up to the sectors and then you do inspections. If you look at how tourism has done it - of course, tourism has a better infrastructure - but they trained their staff. They have mechanisms for monitoring and supporting the different hotels and operations to ensure that the standards and protocols maintained, he reasoned.  
Donovan Wignal, President of the Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprise Alliance, has said he also agrees with the tighter measures.
He said the small business sector does not want to return to the devastating period of partial lockdown during the first and second waves of the pandemic. 
"The fact of the matter is that we got a little bit of freedom and we saw where there is a problem. We have a positivity rate that is skyrocketing. Now, do we want to go back to lockdown? No. We have to adopt a stance of personal responsibility. If the numbers are where they are, then we have to do what we have to do to ensure that we don't go back to that very dreaded place," he said Tuesday on the Morning Agenda on Power 106.

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