Residents want closing hours under state of emergency relaxed

July 19, 2019
Members of the Jamaica Defence Force and the Jamaica Constabulary Force doing spot checks in the Corporate Area.
Members of the Jamaica Defence Force and the Jamaica Constabulary Force doing spot checks in the Corporate Area.

"Them a mash up people business, the place get lame like wha!" was the cry of one resident of Fitzgerald Avenue off Maxfield Avenue in St Andrew South as she described how the recently imposed state of emergency (SOE) has been affecting her community.

Bar operators and party promoters are among those affected by the elevated security measure. Bars, which would usually open throughout the night, are now being forced to close at 8 p.m. Clubs, churches and fast-food restaurants are required to be closed by 9 p.m., and shops must close by 7 p.m.

"From as early as 6 o'clock, you see police and soldier start circle the place and by 8:30 p.m. the bar dem affi lock and everybody affi come off the road. No liquor nah sell because most business in the ghetto is after hours we thrive," one bar operator in Maxfield Avenue said.

Not only is the state of emergency affecting the livelihood of these people, but also the vibrant nightlife that once existed.

Commander of the St Andrew South Police Division, Senior Superintendent Gary Francis, said the security forces cannot tolerate gathering at nights because of the risks associated with it. He said he has not received any request from promoters to stage events outside of the stipulated time.

"Persons will always informally make requests for the time to be extended to suit their own personal situation, but the situation of the SOE must takes precedence in order for further social and economic growth to take place. At lockdown times persons will appeal but the statute and regulations are clear," he said.

A party promoter from Unity Group in the Payne Land says the state of emergency is affecting his livelihood due to the fact that events such as Early Fridayz can no longer be held.

"Everybody affi have them likkle hustle and this is ours, so when nobody nuh come to the events and we nuh get fi sell nothing, we can't buy things fi wi pickney dem go back to school. We affi a lock up by 8:30 and most of the time people just a come from work at that time and them affi go home go fresh up before them come, so it not even make sense any more," the promoter told THE WEEKEND STAR.

However, Spready Glory of Bass Odyssey sound is of a different view. Glory is of the impression that though the state of emergency is affecting business in the area, it is a necessary evil.

"Me open my arms to it because is anything to make us safer, more time yuh affi ease certain things fi get certain results. If them nuh deh ya is bere things gwan, so when them come we just have to work with them cause them a do fi dem work," Glory said.

But while in agreement that the state of emergency is necessary for their area, the residents feel that there ought to be some form of compromise to allow for the staging of social events late at nights in a heavily patrolled area.