Curfew hours hit hard

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter

THE latest draft of measures announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to stem the uptick in COVID-19 cases in Jamaica has sent the entertainment sector into a tailspin.

The measures, which include earlier curfew times, have thrown the proverbial monkey wrench into the plans of a number of promoters of events which had been scheduled for the Emancipation and Independence holiday period primarily.

One of the key events affected is Dream Weekend, the annual party series comprising seven events over five days, from August 5 to 9.

Dream Entertainment, the outfit which stages the series, has released a revised starting time schedule for the parties which now sees them becoming morning and early afternoon events.

Managing Director Scott Dunn told the Jamaica Observer that, while it was an arduous task to turn the operations on its head within 24 hours of the prime minister’s announcement, he is pleased that the events can still take place.

“It really wasn’t easy, as we had to come up with this new timetable in a matter of hours. But I must say that I am relieved that it is not a total lockdown and so we still have an opportunity to operate. We were forced to react pretty quickly and we just want people to know that Dream Weekend is still happening. All that has changed it that the events are either a morning or afternoon start time. We are still committed to providing a safe environment for our patrons,” he said.

This “safe environment”, Dunn went on to explain, includes oversized venues to accommodate social distancing, mandatory masks on entry, temperature checks, and sanitisation stations.

“Bubble events aren’t anything new. They have been held all over the world for the past year and a half. All our patrons will be required to be vaccinated or provide a valid negative COVID test [result]… there will also be isolation areas for person who display symptoms. I am pleased with the measures in place and so is the Ministry of Health and Wellness; the Ministry of Gender, Culture, Entertainment and Sport; and ODPEM [Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management], so we are moving full speed ahead,” Dunn added.

On Monday, Prime Minister Holness adjusted the islandwide curfew commencement time from 11:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Mondays to Saturdays and from 6:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Sundays and public holidays. All curfews end 5:00 am the following day. The measures became effective yesterday.

Large events also saw a reduction in permitted capacity from 60 per cent of the venue to 50 per cent.

For July alone, COVID-19 infections averaged 135 cases per day with a total 1,380 new cases for the month so far.

In the meantime, cinema operators Palace Amusement Company is still in the midst of arriving at a final plan in the wake of the latest COVID-19 containment measures.

But, marketing manager at Palace Amusement Melanie Graham said that one thing for sure is that showtimes at the cinemas will be restricted to the 5 o’clock slot only.

“There is no way we can do a later show so we are sticking to the early show Monday to Saturday. We are toying with the idea of a day show during the holidays, but we’re working out the details for that and will have a definitive answer later this week, as well as how we will handle the New Kingston Drive-In,” she shared in an interview.

Featured Image – A section of the crowd attending Celebrity Playground at a previous staging of Dream Weekend in Negril (Photo: Observer file)

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