Tue | Mar 2, 2021

‘We will not be rushed’ - MOHW reiterates stance that sports will only return after complete national risk assessment

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2021 | 12:15 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Portmore United’s Shai Smith (left) shields the ball from Humble Lion’s Levaughn Williams during their Jamaica Premier League match at the Spanish Town Prison Oval on Sunday, January 5, 2020.
Portmore United’s Shai Smith (left) shields the ball from Humble Lion’s Levaughn Williams during their Jamaica Premier League match at the Spanish Town Prison Oval on Sunday, January 5, 2020.
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Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said a national risk assessment will have to done before a permit can be granted for the resumption of sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tufton said that his ministry has held dialogue with Sports Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange and Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, as it continues to work on the various protocols for sports to be given approval for resumption.

“It really boils down to a matter of a risk assessment and the events that may enhance the risk of the spread of the virus and protocols that are put in place, and the practicality of the implementation of these events given the protocols that exist to control the spread,” Tufton said during a press conference yesterday.

“We have been in dialogue along with our other ministries and ministers to examine these activities and we have put forward, in many cases, proposals as it relates to approach or protocols. I know that we have added starts and stops in terms of sporting events and we have had some events approved, or a particular format for certain events to take place.

DIFFICULT DUE TO HEALTH CLIMATE

“It is difficult in the context of what is happening in the environment at this particular point in time. It is difficult in the context of just managing the spread of the virus, with the ultimate objective of not being overwhelmed at our public health infrastructure, which is important to preserving lives and while we continue to have the dialogue. We had one last week with Babsy Grange, a discussion around sports. The truth is that it really has to do with what else is happening within the environment and how we respond.”

Tufton said that the Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW) will be not rushed into granting sporting or entertainment organisations any approval until they think it is safe to do so.

“The ultimate goal is to establish a set of protocols around the physical distancing, the mask wearing, the numbers that congregate, and that sort of thing and the sanitisation stations,” he said.

Netball Jamaica President Tricia Robinson said they understand the impact the pandemic has had on the country but she is optimistic that the Government will do all it can to ensure the safe return of sports.

“I thought that they have done this already, but having not yet done it, we hope that it will not take a long time,” she said. “They need to do this as quickly as possible because this is very critical to the return of sports, not just for netball, but also for other sporting organisations.”

robert.bailey@gleanerjm.com