Mayor of Portmore Leon Thomas is calling on persons, who are setting up illegal markets in residential areas in the municipality to desist as they are increasing the likelihood of persons contracting the novel coronavirus.
Mayor Thomas made the call after trucks were seen in sections of South East St Catherine selling market goods to large crowds, with many of the patrons not observing health and safety standards as outlined by the Ministry of Health.
St Catherine, in which the municipality falls, is under lockdown following a spike in COVID-19 infection. According to the Prime Minister Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Monday were designated as days when the lockdown would be relaxed allowing persons to restock their homes.
Prior to the relaxing of restrictions, which took effect Wednesday (April 22), Mayor Thomas met with the Parliamentary representatives in the parish, Senior Superintendent of Police Clive Blair, civil bodies in the municipality and the chamber of commerce. It was decided that five areas would be designated as market areas. Mayor Thomas said that the areas were so designated, as they were adequate to allow for social distancing, crowd control and adequate police presence. Those areas are Greater Portmore Football field, lands beside the Scout Association office in Edgewater, lands beside the Southborough Primary school, lands beside Captain Bakery near Portmore Mall and the Hamilton Gardens football field.
Mayor Thomas said that he was surprised and disappointed when he was called to several locations namely Passage Fort, Westchester and Bridgeport, in South East St Catherine where large groups of persons were bundled together, some not wearing masks, none standing six feet apart as outlined by the Ministry of Health and in some instances, babies were present.
Additionally, Mayor Thomas said that upon investigating, it was revealed that the trucks were sent by the Jamaica Labour Party candidate for South East St Catherine. (Fliers were printed by the candidate and distributed to residents in the community advertising the market). Mayor Thomas said that he informed the truck drivers—some of whom were not wearing masks—that they could operate from the designated market areas.
Mayor Thomas said what occurred in those communities have undermined the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus and have put many persons at risk of contracting the virus that has seen six deaths and some 252 persons infected. Meanwhile, the mayor will be meeting with stakeholders as well as the Jamaica Agricultural Society and RADA to look at the day’s activities and ways in which improvements can be made ahead of Friday’s relaxing of restrictions in the parish.