No ease up ... MoBay's mayor, JCF not changing closing times

May 22, 2018
Gloucester Avenue, more popularly known as the Hip Strip in Montego Bay.

No ease up

Montego Bay's mayor, Councillor Homer Davis, and Assistant Commissioner of Police Ealan Powell, the Jamaica Constabulary Force's commander for the state of emergency (SOE) in St James, said there will be no relaxation of the stipulated closing hours for businesses impacted by the SOE.

The tough stance comes against the background of the recent arrest of club owner Calijah Morgan, who was subsequently fined J$50,000 in the St James Parish Court for breaching the Emergency Powers Act by keeping his establishment open several hours after the stipulated midnight closing time.

"If the law says you are to close at 9 p.m., 10 p.m., or 11 p.m., then you just need to comply," said Davis. "If you need special permission to open, you can apply for special permission. There was an appeal that was made recently, but we're not prepared to go beyond what the law prescribes at this time."

In pushing back on those business operators who want to go back to the pre-SOE operating hours, Powell said the resistance to the new regime is not widespread but made it clear that breaches will not be allowed to go unpunished.

"There have been instances where persons have not observed the times and we have taken action," said Powell. "Generally, we have people abiding by the rules, but the appeal is for people to abide by the hours to avoid prosecution."

The closure times for various establishments under the SOE in St James are as follows:

• community recreational areas - 6 p.m.,

• cook shops, dry-goods stores, and haberdasheries - 7 p.m.,

• spirit licence premises - 9 p.m.

• service stations - 10 p.m.,

• clubs and fast-food outlets - midnight.

The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry is at odds with some of its members, who are contending that the regulations are destroying their businesses.

However, the chamber believes that it is a necessary sacrifice that will ultimately benefit everyone.

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