‘Di whole country would a gone mad’ - Vendors against islandwide lockdown

March 09, 2021
Robert Stewart
Robert Stewart

Despite the soaring COVID-19 cases, several micro business owners in downtown Kingston are against a national lockdown, and want the Government to find other alternatives to stop the spread of the virus.

"That (lockdown) a go be a big blow to me and my family," said Robert Stewart, a clothes vendor in the Pearnel Charles Arcade. The Government has imposed lockdowns of communities like Bull Bay and Corn Piece Settlement, and the parish of St Catherine. But speculation over an islandwide lockdown has grown after the health ministry reported more than 1,200 cases over two days. Jamaica now has 26,904 positive cases.

Stewart, 49, added that Prime Minister Andrew Holness should introduce larger fines for people who are caught disobeying the measures, like the wearing of masks.

"Mi affi come a town come fi earn a living so mi can tek care of mi family. Mi no know no other income," added the father of three, who has been selling downtown for more than 20 years. His sentiments were echoed by Karen, who buys and sells Tastee patties for a living.

"Mi no have the big education nor the fancy job weh a go pay mi same way when mi deh home if di country lockdown. Andrew fi know say yuh have nuff people like mi out deh and a di streets wi rely pon fi survive. If the country get lock down, who wi a go sell to?" she asked. "Mi have Internet bill fi pay, and a no mi alone use it. Mi children dem need it fi school. Plus you have food fi buy and eat, rent money and all sort a bills. Not even a week good and di whole country would a gone mad if Andrew lock it dung."

Some of Jamaica's major hospitals are currently reeling from an influx of COVID-19 hospitalisations and the resulting demands for the life-preserving medical care. Stewart agreed that the situation has become dire but insisted that a lockdown would only make things worse.

"Memba the country no deh pon good terms already, enuh, wid crime and poverty, and dat a when yuh put COVID aside," he said. "Wah go happen to the people dem weh cyah find it for themselves? Andrew a go gi all wi money during a lockdown? Things would a get drastic."

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