Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that Jamaicans should begin to condition their minds to live with the novel coronavirus, at least until a vaccine is found and becomes widely available.
"We have to figure out life with COVID and life after COVID," Holness said in Parliament yesterday as he announced that the construction sector is now considered exempted and thus workers can move about to get their jobs done.
He said the rule of no more than 10 persons in space would not be enforced.
"We definitely need to have the construction industry returning to full functionality," Holness said.
He told parliamentarians that early indications are that the impact of COVID on the economy has been temporary.
"If we keep our business and economy operating at below capacity for much longer, we not only prolong the challenges for people whose jobs are affected, but their employers could begin to see the future with uncertainty and that could entrench long-term decisions that could have a negative economic impact," Holness said.
More than 3.1 million people have been infected with the virus worldwide, and 218,000 have died.
"As a country, we have to begin to prepare for the reality of learning to co-exist with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, COVID-19, and this we will have to do for some time to come," Holness said.
"We have to transition, therefore, to a new normal in which we are able to maintain the functioning of our economy while keeping safe through practising social distance, handwashing, wearing of masks, isolating if ill with flu-like or respiratory symptoms and paying particular attention to the vulnerable, while also finding ways to maintain social contact with our family and friends through telecommunications and other technologies," the prime minister said.
Defending the Government's decision not to lock down the country to contain the virus, Holness said that "The measures we have taken to secure our health have been evidence-based, they have been measured and they have been situationally appropriate." He said that there is no question that the measures have had an impact on economic activity.