Tighter COVID restrictions for Jamaica-August 10, 2021

Media briefing by the PM last night covered a wide range of COVID-related issues:

COVID trends have worsened, as I noted in my post yesterday:

Curfew hours are to be lengthened from August 11 through 31. Gathering restrictions will be tightened, including beaches, rivers, places of worship, and gyms.

No permits will be given for entertainment events.

Schools reopening will depend on what happens in next 3 weeks.

Signs of global inequality: vaccines aren’t there for all-June 28, 2021

Holness points to light at end of #COVID19Life tunnel by major easing of curfews-June 23, 2021

PM Holness announced yesterday some major relaxation of Jamaica’s COVID restrictions, notably easing curfew hours to 11pm to 5am for Mondays to Saturdays and 6pm to 5am on Sundays.

The measure will run from July 1 to August 11.

The Opposition were quick to point out that our situation is still highly vulnerable despite improving trends but with a woefully low level of vaccination.

In summary, the other changes from July 1 are:

Churches and Cinemas

* Places of worship – current limit of 50 to move to a capacity-based system. This is where churches can use a measurement of one person for every 40 square feet or 70% of their capacity to conduct services.

* Indoor theatres and Cinemas – These places of amusements are to be allowed to open. They can use the measurement of one person for every 40 square feet or 70% of seated capacity, whichever is lower.

* For drive-in – vehicles should carry no more than the number it is registered to carry.

Controlled Re-entry

* COVID-19 testing – Persons must continue to present a negative test three days before arriving in Jamaica.

* 14-day quarantine remains in place.

* Fully vaccinated persons – eight-day quarantine remains in place.

* Effective July 1, 2021, persons who are fully vaccinated and return a negative PCR test after arriving in Jamaica will be released from quarantine.

Travel restriction

* Travel ban on South American countries as well as the restriction on Trinidad and Tobago and India extended to August 10.

Stay-at-home

* Persons 60 and over must remain at home until August 10. Individuals who are fully vaccinated are exempted.

Funerals and burials

* Services will now be allowed with a maximum of 30 mourners.

* Burials will now be permitted with a maximum of 30 people up from 15.

* Burials may now take place from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays to Fridays only.

Markets

* To operate from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Closed on Sundays.

Beaches, Rivers, Zoos and Water attractions

* To operate from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

* 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.

Parks, Gyms and Bars

* Must close one hour before the start of the curfew.

Amusement arcades

* These entities are allowed to reopen effective July 1.

Events and entertainment

* Organisers of small outdoor events such as parties, concerts, round robins, festivals, corporate mixers will be allowed to apply for permits to host no more than 100 people (50 for public sector)

* For indoor events, no more than 60 per cent of the capacity of the venue.

* Organisers of large events like stage shows, church conventions, festivals, general and special meetings will need to satisfy an approval process through the Ministry of Culture and the Office of the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management.

* Gov’t will waive rental fees for its venues for large events. Other charges will apply.

Another vaccination blitz and improving COVID trends-June 11, 2021

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Chris Tufton’s ‘COVID Conversation’ last night focused on improving COVID trends, especially much lower positivity rates, and another round of vaccination blitzes, that began last weekend and will continue for the next two weekends. Particular focus is on getting second doses given; so far, some 28,000 have had second doses.

Blitzed again…for 2nd vaccination doses-June 5, 2021

Activities at the National Arena were quieter than when we got our first doses, in early-April. Also, traffic was heavier as curfew rules had been loosened. We knew the process on arrival and we’re ushered into the main hall with 5 minutes. Forms were completed. A video was played giving vaccination advice. Then, we waited.

We arrived about 2:05 and first jab came at 2:33; my wife got the last of a batch. I waited and had my dose at 2:39. My wife was nabbed by CVMTV for a quick interview :).

By 2:55, we were on our way home and by 3:20, we were home. Now, time to take some painkillers to ward off some side effects and hope they’re minor for the next 48 hours.

Kudos to all the Ministry of Health and Wellness personnel and JDF staff who assisted in another smooth process.

Another Jamaican COVID-19 “blitz” to get second doses done-June 4, 2021

Just when the USA has allocated at least 80 million doses to the rest of the world, Jamaicans can anticipate another boost to COVID vaccination. The USA will share 75% of doses with COVAX, about 19 million can go to areas worst hit by supply constraints.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness did incredibly well with a so-called “blitz” of vaccinations back in April, when they managed to get 75,000 doses…

Another Jamaican COVID-19 “blitz” to get second doses done

The USA is reopening for business-June 3, 2021

As I browsed TV channels early this morning, a clear theme emerged: things are getting back to normal in the USA, after over a year struggling with the COVID pandemic.

Axios has a COVID map that is now all green, showing COVID cases as least flat in every state. The map has lost it’s purpose. It will go.

I looked in on ‘Morning Joe’, at 5am, and noticed that all the 6 main contributors were seated around a table, in pods of 2. What? I’d become used to seeing the two principals together, in studio—they’re married—but others on inset panels, as they contributed from home offices or elsewhere. Now, together ‘as used to be’.

The White House has announced staff are expected to return ‘to campus’.

Having been in the USA for a few days, it’s clearly different, with vaccines more readily available, and many taking their doses, without hesitation.

President Biden is aiming to get to the 70% vaccination threshold by July 4. He and his thrust have made a difference to attacking the pandemic and it seems to be working.

But, the rest of the world is still lagging, and needs US help to get vaccines.

Jamaicans get looser COVID restrictions-June 1, 2021

PM Holness announced a broad loosening of COVID-related restrictions, notably, easing curfews till July 1:

Fuller details are below:

Quarantine rules for those fully vaccinated are reduced to 8 days from 14, from June 3.

Beaches and rivers will reopen from June 3, with limited group sizes.

Discussions are underway to revive the entertainment industry, and possibly reopen in the summer:

In quarantine-May 31, 2021

As we arrived on Sunday, medical personnel were shouting that “You must quarantine for 14 days. If you’re here for less than 14 days, you must quarantine all the time you are here.”

So, with curfew starting on Sunday at 2pm, it was straight home and into quarantine. Well, the three of us had been together for the past week, so I’m not sure we needed to isolate from each other, though one doesn’t really know.

Main thing was to alert people that we were not going out of the property and if anyone needed to enter, they’d be let in and allowed to get on with their task, leave and we’d close up behind them. It was necessary to let in someone to fix a microwave that should have been repaired last week, but no amount of telling not to call my mobile phone but the home number would stop a technician trying to call me, while I was abroad. Why bother? I asked myself. He arrived and fixed the latch, which had been waiting to be done for nearly 2 years! You read, correctly.

My wife had already adjusted well to online grocery shopping and was itching to get our larder restocked. We got stuff delivered by midday.

Our housekeeper had decided to go to country while we were away. Once she got back mid-morning, it was “Keep your distance!” and not compromise the ‘pods’ the rest of us were occupying.

Some friends called and were told we could wave from upstairs or if they just did a drive-by.

We’re sticking with the rules. Not sure if anyone else is, but I really hope so. Having seen near-normal life coming back in the. USA, we hope that even with our limited COVID vaccinations, we can hold the line on rising infections and positivity rate to see some major improvements in coming months.

A little taste of returning to near-normal after #COVID19Life-May 29, 2021

The USA is further advanced getting through the pandemic than most countries, so it’s been interesting to experience that for a few days.

Last night, we had our last meal together as a family, in a restaurant. It was somewhere that my youngest and I had eaten in February 2020, for my birthday. It had been a nice experience at a restaurant I know from one of its other locations in Virginia, J. Gilbert’s. But, we were unsure what the experience would be like this time.

So far, I’d dined on burgers and had the ‘everything comes in a paper bag’ experience, eating inside. It was fine, but no one else dined inside. There were 3 different stations for pickups: online, delivery, inside. I asked the staff how things had been since the pandemic began and heard a lot about how things had evolved and continued to do you.

My wife and eldest daughter went to a pizzeria and ate outside. It was a blistering day. The food was great and again the story about dealing with the pandemic.

Restaurants can’t just change their physical or personnel options quickly as rules change.

Operating has been hit by lower demand even if some increases came from online ordering or for delivery.

Last night, we found staff all masked but customers encouraged to remove theirs, and not have to ‘lift and bite’. We had a waiter who was as enthusiastic as any I’d ever met, and knowledgeable about the menu.

Reservations were for 2 hour blocks and 5-7pm suited us. We were all due to travel early on Sunday.

It was good to see a near-normal dining room in action, again.

We’re not there, yet, in Jamaica.