Kingston Mayor concerned about protection of persons exempted under curfew

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Kingston Mayor concerned about protection of persons exempted under curfew

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Mayor of Kingston, Senator Delroy Williams, says the enforcement of the curfew must be done in accordance with the law and offer protection to the essential workers whose services are critical at this time.

The mayor was addressing posts on social media concerning the arrest and charge of Councillor Kari Douglas for a breach of the Disaster Risk Management Act under which an islandwide curfew was imposed in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The curfew began on April 1 and runs from 8 o'clock each night to 6:00am the following day. It was to end on April 8 but the Government yesterday announced that it would be extending the measure.

Councillor Douglas was stopped by police officers around 9:00 pm yesterday for being on the road during the curfew.

“I received a call from Councillor Douglas who advised me that she was pulled over by police officers who seemed intent on charging her for a breach of the curfew. She declared herself to be a councillor and advised that she was exempt under the order. She also presented her driver's license which was refused,” Williams said.

“Being the chairman of the council, I sought to aid in identifying Councillor Douglas as for me it was a matter of identification,” he added.

The mayor said he was joined by the Deputy Mayor Winston Ennis. The Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) CEO Robert Hill also made contact with the Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor to verify who Councillor Doulgas' identity.

“This is something that would have been done for any councillor or employee of the council and my greatest concern at this point is that we have workers doing deliveries, working on shelters and assisting the elderly across the city who may find themselves in a similar position,” Williams explained.

“It concerns me because the councillor was clearly stated as exempted under the order, she was identified and verified as exempt but was still charged under the very order that exempts her. I am concerned that the councillors and staff and other personnel who are exempted under the order will feel unprotected and threatened going forward,” the mayor added.

The council chairman said he is also deeply disturbed about the Councillors confidential information including her address and date of birth being share by JCF officers on social media.

Williams said that being a member of the Local Board of Health, the Parish Disaster Committee and the Parish Emergency Operation Centre, Councillor Douglas has responsibilities which may from time to time require her to be on the road beyond the curfew as permitted by the order. This, he said, includes but is not limited to socio-economic interventions within communities.

He noted that during emergency situations and especially a pandemic, the intervention and response of councillors and municipal officers is critical as they are a significant link in the local disaster response network.

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