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Stricter measures coming for beach and river goers following survey

Local Government Minister, Desmond McKenzie is expected to make a decision on whether beaches and rivers remain open on Wednesday.

The waterways were ordered closed in March as the Government moved to limit the spread of COVID-19 on the island.

McKenzie, who warned last week that they could be ordered closed again, lamented on Monday that a survey of several beaches and rivers on the weekend revealed a 91 per cent breach of all the protocols that have been established to keep persons safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The breaches that were observed apparently took place despite the Minister telegraphing days earlier that the beaches and rivers would have been closely monitored on the weekend and despite his warning that they could be closed again if persons continued to flout the health protocols.

McKenzie who indicated that he was not pleased with what he saw regarding the level of indiscipline, said that on Wednesday he will be making a statement to Parliament on the matter.

“I will be outlining certain steps that we are going to be putting in place to ensure that we get the kind of compliance that is required,” said McKenzie as he addressed a COVID-19 press conference from Jamaica House on Monday evening.

“There has to be a certain level of responsibility that is brought to the table by Jamaicans,” the minister stated.

He added that “We understand the importance of going to the beach and rivers and to exercise and to have some level of freedom but we have to do this in a controlled fashion. What we’re seeing is a level of indiscipline that has crept into these facilities”.

McKenzie made it clear that he was not satisfied with what is taking place.

“I want to use tonight (Monday) to make a final appeal so that on Wednesday when I address the matter fulsome in the parliament I will be in a better mood... to advise of the steps that will be taken," said the minister.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness who also addressed the press conference, pleaded with Jamaicans to abide by the health protocols.

He said he was shocked when he saw photographs of hundreds of people gathered on beaches while largely ignoring social distancing and other protocols that are in place to keep them safe. The prime said he thought they were pictures of Florida beaches.

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