No decision on festival

No decision on festival

Observer senior reporter

Thursday, March 26, 2020

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The culture ministry remains undecided regarding this year's staging of the activities related to the annual festival events, which have become part of the yearly Independence celebrations in August.

While the ministry — through its executive agency, Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) — has already suspended all activities relating to the national festival of the performing arts, there is a wait-and-see approach to the other events which have become part of the annual calendar.

Culture Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange told the Jamaica Observer that, at this time, she is paying close attention to the situation, but for now things remain at a standstill.

“We continue to monitor developments and will advise the public, at the appropriate time, when it is safe to resume competitions and reopen the facilities,” she said.

Grange noted that at this time all efforts are aimed at containing COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“We are at the parish finals stage of the National Festival of the Arts competitions. When we confirmed the first coronavirus case in Jamaica, we immediately took a series of actions designed to contain the virus, including the closure of government-operated culture and sports facilities such as museums, galleries, the National Library, the National Stadium and Trelawny Stadium. [We have also] postponed public activities across the ministry including World Poetry Day celebrations and all JCDC competitions, workshops, seminars, and auditions. All activities related to the National Festival of the Arts competitions, the Festival Song competition, Jamaica Gospel Competition, Children's Gospel competition, and the Festival Queen remain postponed,” she shared.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has implemented several restrictions which, it is hoped, will curtail the spread of the virus.

They include: no public gathering of more than 20 people including funerals and weddings; bars, nightclubs, and other areas of entertainment must be closed; Jamaica Urban Transit Company will only carry seated passengers and taxis will be required to carry one fewer passenger than they are licensed to; and, all travellers to Jamaica from countries where there is a spread of the virus will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks.

So far, Jamaica has recorded one death and 25 people have tested positive for the virus.

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