Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced that all Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) operators in St. Catherine have been closed effective yesterday, April 15, 2020.
Prime Minister Holness explained in Parliament yesterday (April 15) that the closure is to facilitate an investigation into the management structure to identify the cause for the rapid COVID-19 spread.
“The closure is necessary for us to access and determine whether or not there was a systemic breakdown in the management, supervision, and practices in BPO operations in the parish and to contain the spread of the virus within the sector as we know that staff is circulated to branches,” said Prime Minister Holness.
According to Prime Minister Holness, all employees at the affected call centre have been placed under quarantine for 14 days.
The Prime Minister also advised other BPOs in operation across the island that it is in their best interest not to accept any employee from the St. Catherine BPO in question until the quarantine period has ended as it would put them in violation of the quarantine act.
Moreover, Prime Minister Holness announced an extension of the time for restocking to limit crowding in public places on Wednesday, April 15 and Saturday, April 18. The amendments are as follows;
- Persons 65 years and older, pregnant women and the disabled will be permitted to conduct the essentials of life between 8 am and 10 am on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
- Persons with surnames beginning with A to H will be permitted to pursue the essentials of life between 10 am and 1:30 pm.
- Persons with surnames beginning with I to P will be permitted to pursue the essentials of life between 1:30 pm and 5 pm.
- Persons with surnames beginning with Q to Z will be permitted to pursue the essentials of life between 5 pm and 8:30 pm.
- Businesses that can operate will, therefore, be open at 8 am and close at 8:30 pm on Wednesday and Saturday only. This is to facilitate those of the Seventh Day Adventist Faith after Sabbath. The employees are permitted to arrive at 7 am and leave at 9 pm.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Holness noted that new regulations such as temperature checks before entry, strict spacing/social distancing will be implemented in BPOs.
In that regard, the Government is putting call centres on notice that the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority will be reviewing their operations to ensure that they are in keeping with the standards set out by the Ministry with the requirements of their license.