Friday, 11 February 2022 13:28


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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says students will return to full face-to-face classes following the mid-term break in March.

He was speaking in the House of Representatives on Thursday (February 10), where he announced further revisions to the coronavirus (COVID-19) containment measures.

The measures, which include a reduction in the nightly curfew hours, take effect on February 11 and end on February 24.

The Prime Minister said that he will announce the resumption of in-person classes when he addresses Parliament in two weeks.

“I am giving notice that we will be returning to full face-to-face by the expiration of [the current] measures, when we will make the announcement for the [follow-up] measures,” the Prime Minister said.

He noted that Jamaica’s education system has been “terribly affected” by the pandemic.

“We can’t afford for our education system to be deprived any longer; we have to return our children to school. The pandemic, based on the health threat, is existential. But I shudder to think of the [potential] education loss and the impact it will have five, six, 10 years down the road if we don’t move quickly to correct it,” he said.

Mr. Holness noted that there have been increased calls for the country to return to normality by dispensing with the restrictive measures, such as the curfews and gathering limitations, that have impacted all facets of the society, including schools. 

“I am, probably, one of the loudest voices in that regard. I want the country to return to normal as quickly as possible. The problem with this pandemic is that you won’t quite know when it is going to end…, because new variants keep popping up,” he noted.

Mr. Holness said that based on Jamaica’s low vaccination rate, “if new variants were to pop up, we would be highly susceptible, so we have to be cautious with how we open up”.

He acknowledged, however, that the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) “has reached its limit”, adding that “I believe that the country has reached its tolerance limit for restrictions”.

In this regard, the Prime Minister indicated that “the DRMA will shortly come to an end”.

Meanwhile, effective Friday, the nightly curfews have been reduced by an additional hour and will now run from 11:00 p.m. to five o’clock the following morning for two weeks to February 24, ending at 5:00 a.m. on February 25.

Additionally, the current maximum 100 persons allowed to physically attend worship services will be increased to a determined capacity limit, based on the size of the venue.

The Prime Minister advised that all other measures will remain unchanged. , adding that “in two weeks’ time, we will undertake a further review… and consider a further widening of the guard rail”.

Mr. Holness also advised that the Government is reviewing JamCOVID controlled reentry and the COVID-19 quarantine procedures, noting that “in the next iteration of the [Disaster Risk Management] Orders, we will have something definitive to say on that”.

          Jamaica recorded 152 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday (February 9), which took the cumulative number to 126,589, with 2,708 deaths.