December-January COVID-19 measures take effect tonight

Prime Minister Andrew Holness is scheduled to speak on the Government’s plans to address the COVID-19 threat during the coming festive season when the House of Representatives resumes sitting at Gordon House this afternoon.

No details on the prime minister’s presentation were available yesterday, but it was recognised that the current emergency orders, which came into effect on November 16, would have expired at midnight, November 30.

The prime minister, in his presentation to the House of Representatives on the COVID-19 issue at last Tuesday’s sitting, referred to the measures as “proposals” to amend the Disaster Risk Management measures for the period December 2020 to mid-January 2020.

The Jamaica Observer has been reliably informed that a gazette will be issued today with the new protocols, replacing those which ended at 5 o’clock this morning, most of which were presented by Holness to the House last week. However, there are possibilities that some fine-tuning might have been done and changes made to some of those proposals.

The new protocols will become effective at 10 o’clock tonight.

There has been speculation that the Government may move to introduce a process to address the failure to wear masks in public, as well as to sanction people who continue to stage dances and other similar events without permission. However, this has not been confirmed by Jamaica House.

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke will share centre stage with Holness as he is expected to make a statement on the financial issues arising from the effect of the pandemic, as well as the cost of rehabilitating the country’s infrastructure after the recent floods.

Dr Clarke will also address several new Bills emanating from his ministry, including the Independent Fiscal Council Act, the Financial Administration Audit Act, and a Bill amending the National Housing Trust Act.

Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck is expected to take on two Bills he tabled last week — the Evidence (Amendment) Act and the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act.

Leader of the House Edmund Bartlett confirmed yesterday that meetings of the House of Representative will definitely be returning to Gordon House today, as members are satisfied that everything that can be done to accommodate the huge Government membership in the chamber has already been done.

“It’s not perfect, but it represents the extent that we can do now to facilitate a return to the chamber,” Bartlett told the Observer.

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