No COVID-19 care during weekly parties at Spanish Bridge in St Mary

No COVID-19 care during weekly parties at Spanish Bridge in St Mary

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Despite warnings from the Government that strong action will now be taken for breaches of COVID-19 protocols, scores of people partying at the famous Spanish Bridge attraction, in the White River valley of St Mary each week are doing so while ignoring all the rules.

OBSERVER ONLINE has confirmed that during the sessions, which are being held on weekends, patrons disregard appeals for social distancing. The wearing of masks and sanitisation of the hands are also ignored.

Sources say up to 2,000 patrons sometimes gather at the river on Sundays, revelling in the pristine water, drinking and having fun on the riverbanks.

“It is a recipe for disaster and a COVID-19 hotspot in the making,” one concerned resident told OBSERVER ONLINE as she noted that the parties keep attracting more patrons each Sunday and seem to be getting “bigger and bigger”.

Another resident charged that there are “frequent gun salutes” at the parties, which usually continue long after the 11 o'clock start of the nightly curfews.

“There are no rules or no laws in the White River valley, near the Spanish bridge where everything goes and nobody is answerable to anybody,” said the resident.

There is no charge to access the river but many hustlers charge persons for parking spots and to “watch their vehicles”. The hustlers also offer water shoes for rent while some sell food and liquor.

Chairman of the St Mary Municipal Council Richard Creary yesterday confirmed that reports of the free-for-all parties have reached his desk.

“We are well aware of the problems and we have had several meetings with the various agencies in trying to come up with a strategy to deal with it,” said Creary, the Mayor of Port Maria.

“The police have appointed a team and [the last time we met] they explained to us that once they know of the events that are planned they are actually calling the people and telling them not to go up there and have been turning back vehicles. It is however still a challenge.

“What we have been looking at also is a proposal from property owners in the area for a barrier to be placed in the road to which they would secure and man. We however have been checking [on] the legality of this…and once it is determined that it is legal…then we would be looking at doing that,” added Creary.

According to him, the St Mary Municipal Council is treating the matter very seriously and will be doing all that it can to get the situation under control.

In the meantime, Member of Parliament for St Mary Western, Robert Montague also appeared to have received reports of the parties.

“It is now a police matter…and they need to act,” declared Montague.

Jamaica has seen a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent days with 44 news cases recorded across the island in the past 72 hours.

Up to yesterday, the island had recorded 1,031 COVID-19 cases with 14 people who tested positive for the virus dying, and 745 recovering.

At a media briefing last week, Prime Minister Andrew Holness noted that some Jamaicans [weak fences] were ignoring the appeals to observe the COVID-19 protocols and declared that the Government would move to tougher measures, including prosecution for the breaches.

“I think we are at the limit in moral suasion. We will now have to move into another phase of managing the pandemic. We have sought to address it by appealing to the good conscience and reasonableness of our citizens, [but] we have some weak fences — some people who it would appear they would do everything possible not to observe the recommendations of authorised sources,” stated Holness.

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