The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) is appealing to the Government to relax the restrictions on opening hours for businesses during the festive season to allow its membership to recoup some of the revenue that is being lost during the ongoing state of emergency in the parish of St James.
“The general business community will have been feeling somewhat of a pinch because of the shortened opening hours for the businesses due to the state of emergency; they have all been making that sacrifice,” Winston Lawson, president of the MBCCI, said in an interview with The Gleaner. “As one would expect, the shorter opening hours would essentially translate into lower revenues and, of course, lower profits.
“Christmas season, for the majority of businesses, is the best time of the year, so we all appreciate the positive results that have come from the state of emergency, but we would hope that the security forces are able to look at the opening hours in an effort to grant or accommodate some extension during that season,” continued Lawson.
He, however, urged the Government to ensure that the security forces have the required resources to continue to deliver on the lowered crime numbers.
Under the state of public emergency, which began in January, the security forces have been given extraordinary powers and some rights of citizens have been suspended, resulting in a reduction in the opening hours of businesses.
Several business operators have complained of losing revenue because of the restrictions, but most proprietors have agreed that it was a sacrifice worth making in order to avoid a repeat of the record-breaking 335 murders in 2017.
Speaking in the House of Representatives in July, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that the state of public emergency in St James was not only reducing crime in the parish, but had resulted in a downward trend in the national daily homicide rate, with the average falling from 4.65 to 3.44.
The Area One police is reporting a 70 per cent reduction in murders in the St James police division when compared with the similar period last year.