Jamaica’s Entertainment Sector Phase 1 Reopening Begins Today

Buju Banton PM Andrew Holness

Jamaica’s entertainment sector begins phase one of reopening today.

In a long and desperately awaited move, Jamaica’s government has approved a phased reopening of the entertainment sector that’s been dormant since pandemic protocols were imposed months ago. The announcements made by Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie indicate that social distancing rules will be relaxed on a trial basis starting Tuesday, July 21 for live entertainment, summer camps, gaming lounges, amusement parks, sports bars, nurseries as well as the staging of certain social activities and outside entertainment events. Additionally, the ministry will employ a sensitization and monitoring team whose mandate is to ensure the overall effectiveness of the new stipulations.

The Minister noted the exceptions that applied—gambling facilities at gaming lounges would remain suspended, and the order does not apply to night clubs. “The events to which I refer include small outdoor concerts, parties, round-robins, launches, religious celebrations, and festivals,” McKenzie said. Strict warnings were also issued, particularly in the wake of last week’s temporary closure of Devon House after one of its tenants, Reggae Mill Bar, was found to be hosting weekly party sessions in breach of COVID-19 protocols. Failure to adhere to the new order will result in a withdrawal of the reopening and the Minister also expressly advised that strict mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand sanitization rules will be in effect.

As per the new orders:

* No event can be held without a permit. Applications must be made to municipal corporations for permits and must have the correct address, approximate size, a recent dated picture of the proposed venue, and proposed layout of the event.

* All approved events must end one hour before the start of the nightly curfew, which starts at 11:00 pm. No more than 280 people can gather for an event. This means a maximum 250 patrons and no more than 30 additional production personnel, including performers and staff. There must also be visible signs, such as tape on floors or other markings, to ensure that patrons observe all protocols, including social distancing.

McKenzie explained that reopened entities would be subject to inspections by local ministries as well as the police and urged compliance from industry players. “All we are asking persons to do is to comply with the stipulation. So, if you are allowed to open, operate within guidelines. The discussions have gone a far way, and it would be disappointing that persons, for their own selfish means, would want to derail them in regard to the entertainment industry,” the Minister said.