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Should Jamaicans be asked to go to the polls during the Covid-19 pandemic?

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Prime minister and leader of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Andrew Holness on August 11 announced in Parliament that Jamaicans will go to the polls on Thursday, September 3 to elect a new Government.

Nomination Day is today, Tuesday, August 18.

The general election will be held during the novel coronavirus pandemic at a time when there are more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the virus and a spike in the disease on the island.

Jamaica Observer West photographer Alan Lewin yesterday asked people on the streets of St James:

“Should Jamaicans be asked to go to the polls during the COVID-19
pandemic?”

Here are some of the responses:

Moeisha Clarke,receptionist

“I do not think it was appropriate to call a general election at this time with the corona pandemic. It’s not right.”

Kemar Nembhard, businessman

“Yes. It is the right time to call an election, because if the Government is not doing the right thing, the people now have the opportunity to vote them out.”

Sonia Dennis, nurse

“It is very risky to call a general election at this time with the current COVID-19 pandemic in the atmosphere. He may know what he is doing as a leader, so somehow he had to call it, so he got to do what he got to do.”

Giffrey Lewis, photographer

“No. Now is not a right time for a general election. He should have waited some more time and try more strategies to contain the COVID-19 pandemic; try to lessen the spread. But with the election atmosphere and the campaign expected, people from all around may mingle and pass on the virus.”

Mackie Conscious, singer

“Andrew Holness had to call it. It’s best to get it out the way before the schools reopen. The campaign trail is risky because I saw several campaign trails and the majority of the people have on no masks. They should campaign on social media, if not, after this election many more will catch COVID, and it may cause a big breakout in Jamaica.”

Kirk Thomas, newspaper vendor

“The prime minister has no conscience to call an election now. How is he calling election in this pandemic, how will he control the crowds? He should wait until next year, when it is constitutionally due. Not even school should open until next year.”

Vernal Campbell, businessman

“I support the prime minister for calling an election. He is doing a good job and he needs a next term to complete his tasks.”

Mycowave, entertainer

“They should put an online vote, because with this pandemic, it is risky. I saw people campaigning and they have on no masks. They should set up an online voting, so that people may not contract the COVID.”

(Jamaica Observer)

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