Jamaica’s Entertainment Industry Eyes Summer Reopening Amid Stimulus Talks

Jamaica PM Andrew Holness

Jamaica’s vibrant entertainment industry could be fully back in business this summer.

The Caribbean hub for musical entertainment has been on bed rest since May 2020 after orders were given to forgo all events and gatherings, which could result in additional cases of positive coronavirus cases among the population. A few weeks ago, Jamaicans were surprised to witness video footage of hundreds of individuals, the majority of them tourists, who had descended on Negril Jamaica to enjoy a weeklong run of events at the popular Rick’s Cafe venue. The events which were held under the Mocha Fest Jamaica brand were seemingly in breach of the Disaster Risk Management Act, DRMA.

The popular venue was ordered closed in order to facilitate further investigations into the matter that was seemingly endorsed by the Jamaica Tourist Board. The Manager of the venue was reportedly interrogated by police in the presence of his attorney, Peter Champagnie. A file prepared by the investigators will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine whether charges are to be brought against him, as he was allegedly on the property at the time of the event.

Representatives of the business, which is operated by a US company called Branded Cities, were also called to a meeting with Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie. During the meeting, it emerged that Rick’s Cafe was operating with an expired Places of Amusement Licence.

They have since gotten the requisite permits from the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation and have reopened for business. The certification was received after the entity presented up-to-date certifications from the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

In the meantime, Minister of Entertainment and Culture Olivia’ Babsy’ Grange recently announced that the government has secured $50 million in grant funding for the entertainment sector. The sector is one of the groups that has been hit hardest by the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

$40 million from the fund should go directly to members of the sector but is being held up due to glitches with the government’s electronic system.

During her speech in Parliament, Minister Grange also revealed that Prime Minister Andrew Holness will make an announcement on June 22 regarding the reopening of the sector. As they seemingly prepare for the sector’s reopening, the Ministry of Culture is engaging in consultations with entertainment practitioners and various other ministries that would be involved in ensuring a smooth reopening.

Miss Grange added that the government is also working on securing entertainment venues where events can be held with strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols.

Although the government has not announced an official reopening date for the entertainment industry, sources told Urban Islandz that the Prime Minister is looking to give Jamaicans the green light for some summer festivities.