Prime Minister Andrew Holness has promised to further relax the closing hours for businesses in St Catherine, Clarendon and other parishes under the states of emergency (SOE) to facilitate the festive season.
“It is the intention of the Government to ensure that, by the Christmas period – by the first week in December, the closing times are adjusted accordingly to allow for people to enjoy the season. It is not the intention of the Government to take away the enjoyment from the people,” he told parliament yesterday, October 15.
At the time, parliamentarians were voting to extend the SOEs currently in the parishes of Clarendon and St Catherine, as well as St James, Westmoreland and Hanover. They were extended yesterday until January.
The Christmas reprieve will also apply to the SOE in St Andrew South Police Division.
Moments before Prime Minister Holness announced the special arrangement, Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips appealed for it.
He suggested that parliament meets at the end of November to put measures in place for Christmas.
Prime Minister Holness, in response, said: “The end of November – or even before that – we will put in place the special provisions to ensure that the SOEs operate throughout December without affecting what people have grown accustomed to in the enjoyment of the season.”
He noted that the only complaint he has been receiving regarding the SOEs is in relation to their impact on commerce.
“The objective of this government is not to disrupt the law-abiding citizens’ activities. So we don’t want to, in any way, negatively impact on commerce,” the prime minister explained. “When we start the SOEs, it is important to have domain control. It is very difficult to control the area if regular opening times are permitted in the first phase of the operations. As the SOE operations progress, we will relax the closing times.”
In Clarendon and St Catherine, businesses currently are required to close by 11 o’clock nightly.
The closing hours vary between 8PM and midnight in the parishes of St James, Hanover and Westmoreland.
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