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By Elesha George

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Longer shopping hours and greater access to family and friends are likely to be the result of the state of emergency relaxations announced by Cabinet on Thursday morning.

According to the latest publication of the Extraordinary Gazette, curfew hours have been reduced from eight to six hours, effective from 11pm last night until 5am on July 31 when the state of public emergency will also end.

“Save and accept there is no prevailing conditions for us to come back, the last date of the state of emergency will be 31st July. Accordingly, we have also extended the curfew to 31st July,” said Cabinet spokesman Melford Nicholas.

During the period of the mandatory curfew, persons must remain confined to his or her place of residence – which includes the porch, gallery and yard space of their home – to avoid contact with others who are not part of their immediate household. Tourists will remain in their ‘bio-secure’ areas and adhere to the policies of hotels as outlined by local authorities.

The curfew period will not apply to individuals who are involved in a medical emergency or essential workers.

Under the Public Health Act, classes of workers including registered livestock and vegetable farmers, as well as licensed fishermen, are allowed some freedom in order to do their jobs effectively.

Farmers can begin work from 4am while licensed fishermen are permitted to operate during the curfew period from 2am. The changes to the curfew hours also permit businesses to open and operate between the hours of 5am to 9pm each day.

In addition, Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s office, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, confirmed to Observer yesterday that there is no longer a limit on the number of persons who can gather at any given period, provided there is sufficient space for them to stay six feet apart.

The restriction on social gathering, while eliminating the 10 or 25-person rule in some instances, still does not permit persons to host or attend any private party which includes those from outside their immediate household. It also prevents persons from attending or participating in any organised sporting event or any sports stadium, holding any banquet, ball or reception, or attending meetings of a fraternal society, social or private club, civic organisation or association.

In addition to keeping six feet apart, people must continue to wear face masks and wash hands regularly and thoroughly.

After noticing less and less persons wearing masks, Cabinet has agreed for firmer measures to be applied on anyone refusing to wear one in public. Violations carry a $5,000 fine if convicted, six months in prison, or both.

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