Mask-wearing still a keep - Tufton says health ministry will continue to encourage practice

October 23, 2020

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says the ministry will continue to encourage mask-wearing, even as local celebrity Buju Banton bashed the measure as a combative strategy against the spread of COVID-19.

"Our position is very clear. The public health position is that the mask-wearing in public is useful, it is an important part of the response to COVID and to restricting the spread of the virus. This is a clinical position that is not only endorsed and supported and advanced by us here in Jamaica, but by most countries throughout the world," Tufton told THE WEEKEND STAR when asked about celebrities who denounce the laws.

Tufton noted that the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization have "advanced as a policy, encouraged, prescribed that mask-wearing should be a practice that is the norm not the exception".

"We are very confident that it is the right thing to do and we certainly would encourage Jamaicans to comply. And we will continue to push that message," he said.

But Tufton says the Government will not be taxing any individual who doesn't wear one.

"The law is not to tax. The law is to encourage compliance in the first instance and to enforce compliance in the second instance. The rules of mask-wearing are contained in the orders that we have put out, which required mask-wearing in public. There has been some uncertainty if you will, or confusion around what the enforcement mechanisms are in terms of the penalties," he explained. "And so, the Government recently agreed to review and to be more specific on what those are. The Minister of Justice, Mr Delroy Chuck, and the Attorney General are putting that together and we should have those out soon."

Jamaica on Wednesday recorded five more COVID-related deaths with ages ranging from 39 to 67 years, increasing the tally to 179. There were 155 new cases and 79 recoveries. There are also 4,214 active cases.

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