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Quick Bits - The Road to Recovery: Weekly bits of news relevant to you

June 4, 2021

Here are some relevant news stories from this past week. You can find more information and the full articles on the host news websites.

US Returning to Pre-Covid Normal

States across the country are easing Covid-19 restrictions as more people are getting vaccinated and activities are resuming. Rule changes include removed curfews, removed business restrictions, removed capacity restrictions, removed gathering restrictions, ending indoor mask mandates, eased social distancing standards, allowing more activities to resume, and the returning of public transit capacity. Each state is controlling the easing of restrictions independently, although the majority are seeing a movement away from prior strict public health mandates in accordance with CDC guidelines. Half of all Americans have received one dose of a vaccine and 40% are fully vaccinated by now. There is a widespread sense of optimism among public officials, including President Biden, as well as the general public as life begins to transition out of the pandemic era.

Source: ABC News

Covid-19 Cases Lowest Since March 2020

The seven-day average for new Covid-19 cases has dropped to the lowest number since March 2020 as the country enters the summer and restrictions begin to lift. Last summer, easing restrictions resulted in outbreaks across the country. However, this year, cases remain low and vaccine distribution is leaving experts optimistic about widespread reopening. Vaccinations, a certain degree of immunity, and the summer season are expected to prevent a surge in cases, continuing the overall downward trend of infections according to public health experts. However, areas of the country and people that are not vaccinated still remain vulnerable. The best defense against the virus this summer and throughout the rest of the year will be getting people vaccinated and adhering to expert guidelines.

Source: NBC News

Covid-19 Rule Adjustments in Jamaica

With the increased number vaccinated persons and successful public health practices, Jamaica has updated the rules and restrictions regarding Covid-19 health and safety measures.

Non-residents visiting outside of the “resilient corridor” now only require an eight-day quarantine instead of the previous 14-day quarantine. All travelers are still required to show a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days of entry.

Curfews will remain from 9pm to 5am during the week, 8pm to 5am on Saturday’s, and 2pm to 5am on Sunday’s. This will remain in effect from June 3rd through July 1st.

Stay-at-home orders remain for individuals 60 years-old and older except for those that have been vaccinated. The public sector is maintaining its work-from-home orders and the private sector is encouraged to do the same. This will remain in effect from June 3rd through June 30th.

Funerals will still be banned, although burial services with a 15-person limit will be allowed for 30 minutes between 9am and 4pm during weekdays. Church and memorial services have increased the capacity limit from 30 to 50 persons, and the wedding capacity limit has increased from 15 to 50 persons as well. This will remain in effect from June 3rd through June 30th.

Public gatherings will retain a 10-person limit, with the exception of handing over and launching ceremonies that have increased the capacity limit to 30 persons. Entertainment events will remain banned, although the government is hosting conversations about when and how it will be safe to resume. Beaches and rivers will be opened for swimming, bathing, and exercise with a limit of only 10 persons gathered in any one area at a time. This will remain in effect from June 3rd through June 30th.

Source: The Jamaican Gleaner

Positive Outlook for Jamaican Businesses Following New Covid-19 Safety Updates

As the curfew rules have been adjusted in Jamaica, business is expected to improve throughout the island. Decreased quarantine periods for travelers should increase business transactions, while the new curfew hours will hopefully decrease congestion at the businesses themselves. The government is attempting to balance public safety measures with the need for economic support. Part of this effort includes improving vaccine distributions moving forward, although for now, widespread adherence to the guidelines put forth remains one of the best ways to return the country to normal as soon as possible.

Source: The Jamaican Gleaner

Jamaican Economy Expected to Grow Q2 2021

The Planning Institute of Jamaica has projected a 7-9% growth forecast for the Jamaican economy during the second quarter of 2021. This outlook is backed by strong construction and tourism growth as the country begins to recover from the pandemic and look to the future. The services industry was disproportionately affected by the pandemic and looks to rebound, although recovery will remain slow until a larger proportion of individuals are vaccinated as public health remains a priority. Construction has improved due to substantial investment spending, creating a ripple effect of positive employment outlook and economic growth. Employment levels are expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels during fiscal year 2022-2023, and overall GDP is expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels during fiscal year 2023-2024.

Source: The Jamaican Gleaner

US Economic Recovery

The service sector in the US has been expanding for the 12th consecutive month according to a survey from The Institute for Supply Management. The survey reached an all-time index high in May following a previous all-time high in March. The services sector employs the majority of Americans and has benefited from loosened restrictions and people returning to pre-pandemic activities. Current demand is so great that businesses are struggling with supply chain issues and increased employment needs according to the institute’s manufacturing report.

Unemployment benefit seekers fell for a fifth straight week to a pandemic low and employers have added 1.8 million jobs so far this year. The US has experienced strong economic recovery, especially in the job market, although a large number of people remain unemployed by historical standards. Economic and employment indicators have unique recovery paths, although high consumer demand and people returning to their previous lifestyles seems to be improving the economy overall. Some states are preparing to cut emergency federal unemployment aid provided during the pandemic, although in mid-May about 15.4 million people were still receiving some form of unemployment support.

Source: ABC News

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