Prime Minister Andrew Holness went emotional at his last virtual press conference, and even took off his mask to reveal an angry-faced Holness who seems fed up of people, who should know better than panicking in the pandemic and wondering if he knows what he is doing by beginning to open the economy.
Well, it appears that they asked for it and he gave it to them, in no uncertain terms, making it known that his decisions are informed not through social media, but by listening to expert advice and reading academic papers, stopping just short of saying ‘I’m not a fool and I know what I’m doing’.
To demonstrate that he knows the risk involved in reopening the airport, he cited, among others, the controlled re-entry of Jamaicans, noting that out of the 2,300 who have returned only 54 or 2.3% tested positive for the coronavirus, which is a pertinent piece of information that can help assess the risk of potential spread of the virus.
Holness said he is not hiding anything from Jamaicans, including the potential increase in Covid-19 cases as the economy begins to open up. But he said as the leader of the country he has to do the right thing, which is to balance lives and livelihoods, stating they are not mutually exclusive as some would like to believe, and asserting that he can do both simultaneously.
The prime minister justified his position by drawing in the reality facing most Jamaicans today, after some three months without their regular income. He cited in particular, over 300,000 Jamaicans who rely on tourism for their livelihood, and thousands of farmers who cannot sell their stock of produce because hotels, restaurants and other outlets are closed and people ordered to stay at home. Mr Holness said the impact on farmers threatens the island’s food security as they are not returning to their farms unless they can sell what they grow.