While stating that the restrictions on businesses and parties in St Catherine North West should be relaxed this Christmas season, Member of Parliament Robert ‘Bobby’ Pickersgill said he thinks the said restrictions linked to the ongoing state of emergency in the constituency are unnecessary.
His constituency – including the towns of Linstead, Ewarton and Lluidas Vale – is part of the St Catherine North Police Division, which has been under the state of public emergency since March 18. The state of emergency has resulted in restrictions on the opening hours for businesses.
“With the Christmas season, I think there has got to be some relaxation of the hours [for businesses to open] because, for instance, the grand market in Linstead is something that people look forward to. The hours will definitely have to be extended,” Pickersgill posited.
He, in an exclusive interview with The Beacon, indicated that there are no practical signs of the state of emergency in his constituency except for the aforementioned restrictions.
Pickersgill noted that residents of the Lluidas Vale area complained to him last week Wednesday during a community meeting that the restrictions on parties are too stringent.
“The restrictions were not really necessary… It did not strike me that Lluidas Vale was in a state of emergency because you go down there and you walk through and you drive through – I don’t see any form of extra security – none at all [in the community although a state of emergency is in effect there],” Pickersgill said.
He continued: “In the other sections of the constituency, when you finish the highway and you are approaching Linstead, there used to be all sorts of barricades; that’s gone; it’s not there anymore.”
The Jamaica Constabulary Force, in September, revised the opening hours for businesses in Pickersgill’s constituency and other parts of the St Catherine North Police Division – essentially giving them longer hours to remain open.
According to the revised rules, clubs and restaurants are allowed to open until 2am, bars until 10pm, gas stations until 11pm, supermarkets and haberdasheries until 8pm, pharmacies until 10pm, and other public places until 10pm. Businesses are allowed to open no earlier than 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning.