dr keith rowley

Dr Keith Rowley

Faced with an alarming increase in ­Covid-­19 cases, the Government has reduced the numbers of persons allowed to congregate from 25 to ten.

And the Public Service is to ope­rate on 50-per cent rotation basis for the next 14 days.

However, bars, which were one of the sources of new infections, and restaurants will remain unchanged, but under observation.

Speaking at a news conference at the Diplo­matic Centre, St Ann’s, yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the new measures, promising the Government would take stronger action if warranted.

“We know that there are people who have it (the virus), who don’t know (they have it). And that is where we have to be concerned about the population moving out in large numbers,” he said.

“Our system is working, but the system is telling us that there are sources out there that we are not in control of. We don’t know who is the origin of some of these people’s problems, so it means that they would have got the virus from somebody unknown to us,” the prime minister said.

He said the Government was seeking to reduce the amount of contact that is likely to happen.

“And to do so, we would go back from the groups permitted—groups of 25, we are going back to groups of ten. So, we will change the regu­lation and reduce the number of people who are allowed to congregate. That is the fundamental response of reducing the ­numbers of persons exposed,” the prime minister said.

This, he said, would not affect the numbers at funerals and the churches, which would be required to continue observing mask-wearing and social distancing.

Rotating the public service

Rowley said the Government would ask the Public Service, through communication with the office of the Chief Medical Officer and the permanent secretaries in charge of the public service groups, to reduce the number of public servants who are out at any one time.

“And the way to do that is to either have them come to work alphabetically, or rotate them by days for the next 14 days, and see if we see anything that warrants a further response. If nothing appears that requires a response, then we come back to where we are now,” he said.

“For the next 14 days, we would ask the permanent secretaries to do that rotation which would reduce the population of people out in the street and out among themselves to approximately 50 per cent,” the prime ­minister stated.

The next 14 days would take the country past the August 10 election.

Bars, restaurantsun der close watch

The prime minister said the Government was very concerned, having looked at where the known people who are infected in the last few days got their infections—which were at school and bars.

He said the Government was keeping bars, restaurants and public transport under very close watch. In all instances, it may ­require intervention “and more drastic ­action” if the country continues on the ­current path (of ­increases in cases) over the next 72 hours into next week, the PM said.

Rowley said the cooperation of the popu­lation was essential to contain the spread, adding that effective law enforcement was also necessary. “We are acting here under the public health ordinance, and law enforcement will be required...

“If people are going to attempt to congregate in larger numbers and that includes political parties, then law enforcement must act, not out of a punishment mode, but out of a preservation mode in order to protect the lives of the population,” he said.

Appeal to political

leaders, law enforcement

“So from tomorrow we expect that we will go back to numbers of ten, and we expect that the political parties engaged—it shouldn’t be a problem for many political parties, the ones with only a maxi (taxi) full of people— but others will have to (adjust).

“And I am appealing to the political leaders in the various political parties to ensure that your campaigning does not include the making of crowds and the gathering of crowds beyond ten (persons). Fortunately the campaign is well advanced. We only have a few days left and we will take those steps to ensure that the numbers don’t go in any spiral upwards. And the same applies to bars and restaurants, which are left open for the moment. But we expect that there would be serious law enforcement around these establishments.”

Reiterating that the population in the South did not appear to be taking this matter seriously and that the impression was given that it was about the politics, the prime ­minister said that kind of thinking would get the country into serious trouble because the virus was the respecter of no one.

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