Jamaica PM Andrew Holness Announces Open of Ent Sector After 2 Years

Buju Banton PM Andrew Holness
Buju Banton, PM Andrew Holness, Joe Bogdanovich

Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness announces an end of the controversial DRMA and local live entertainment is back in business.

Jamaica is set to fully reopen its entertainment sector as Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Thursday announced that the prohibition on entertainment will be lifted and curfew will also be removed, allowing for events to be held.

It’s been exactly two years since Jamaica’s entertainment sector was shut down as the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the world. The government had to decide to stop the gathering of people, which helped to increase the spread of the virus. However, entertainment’s closure caused a massive fallout as thousands of people who were dependent on entertainment for their livelihood were now in limbo.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister announced the removal of prohibitions on events effective March 18 but he warned that events will still be subject to regulations as they were before the pandemic.

“The public is reminded that events are regulated under various laws and administered by various entities such as the Municipal Corporations and the JCF, from whom permits must be sought and licenses paid. The permits granted will include a condition that the number of persons in a venue is below 70% of capacity,” the Prime Minister said.

PM Holness also cautioned that care should still be exercised.

“We are not declaring an end to the pandemic. There are still outbreaks happening all over the world. We are mainstreaming the management of the disease under our existing public health laws,” Holness said.

Prime Minister Holness also went on to say, “risks remain and continued vigilance is necessary, especially for vulnerable populations. For this reason, some measures will be retained and incorporated into Regulations issued under the Public Health Act instead. These are the requirement for persons who test positive to isolate, the requirements for laboratories to protect the privacy and identity of persons testing for COVID-19, handwashing and hand sanitization measures; and mask-wearing in enclosed spaces to which the public has access, for example, supermarkets, banks, Collectorate of Taxes.”

Those measures are to remain in place until April 15, 2022, with a view for removal, Mr. Holness said. Meanwhile, mask-wearing is not mandatory, but he said it is highly recommended in establishments that serve food or drink for consumption within the premises.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister also announced funding to support the reopening of the entertainment sector. Artists, employees in production, and promoters, to name a few, are set to benefit.

“To further support the opening of the sector, I have directed CHASE to create a special JA$150m window of support for the Entertainment Sector. This will be used to help musicians, entertainers, theatre production companies, and promoters of festivals and events. More details including criteria for access will be made available.’

Prime Minister Andrew Holness also said that as the entertainment sector reopens, for the first six months, permit fees will be cut by 50% to help small promoters and event organizers recover financially.

In the meantime, the PM also acknowledged the informal state of the industry and noted that promoters, production companies, producers, and creatives have viable products/ events that could be financed on a commercial basis. However, they are faced with the issue of access to credit. The PM further announced another funding scheme to help industry people access cash to commercialize their products.

“The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) will establish a special Entertainment Restart Loan Facility totalling JA$500 million. Under this facility, JA$250 million will be reserved for micro-enterprises including vendors supporting the entertainment industry. Micro-enterprises will be able to access loans of up to JA$750,000 from DBJ-accredited micro-finance institutions for working capital, equipment and refinancing,” he said.

The announcement of the reopening of the industry was welcomed by Jamaicans, who reacted on Twitter.

“After 2 years of being on lockdown, Anju has lifted the nightly curfews. We are back outside FULLY,” one person wrote on Twitter.

“Anju seh NO MORE CURFEWS. We OUTSIDE FULLY”, another added.