No-movement days and curfew charades in Jamaica-September 19, 2021

One thing to be greatful for with only having one day of no-movement in Jamaica, Sunday, instead of 3, is to end the pretence that the policy actually stops a lot of movement. In large part, that pretence was created by the government offering some 50+ groups of workers exemptions from the outset. But, more significant was the fiction that somehow the limited resources of the local security forces could actually enforce widespread no-movement.

Let’s think first of how many communities exist and if we really think that all of these and the homes there can actually be monitored to stop anyone leaving their homes. We may want to say that just going out to say visit the neighbour next door is not that important, but it is if the essence is to stop mixing and mingling because that’s the main way the COVID virus spreads.

Think next about how anyone going about their illegitimate business can be distinguished from those who have been given legitimate grounds for moving around. In a farcical way of thinking about it, were the two groups of citizens given uniforms they were obliged to wear-eg red for ‘stay at home’ and green for ‘out and about’? At least, that would have been a quick set of visual cues on over which anyone could be challenged. Of course, some of us (maybe, all) would need both uniforms because we have cause to be out just for a bit, eg to make an airport run, or to get to/from a hotel for which we have a booking.

But, the bottom line is that no one can monitor this no-movement policy better than individuals themselves and those immediately around them. Look, I’m ready to risk my marriage and call out my wife for breaking quarantine, so I have no qualms about yelling “Police!” if she ventured out 🙂 So, what if she files for divorce?

I was convinced last night, as we pressed the edge of curfew starting, that this too is hard to monitor especially on its cusp, eg up to one hour past. Cars were streaming on the main roads, presumably as they headed home. But, who in the 2 police cars we saw was going to stop them or set up roadblocks?

Good, then, that we only have this dubious no-movement policy for what’s usually a slow day. Businesses should be happy. As we have been given no idea how no-movement would drive down our COVID cases, I’d suggest the government rethink what it’s really trying. Curfews? I think they work, for those who care to observe.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)