Dream or nightmare?
Traffic near the entrance to a Dream Weekend party being held at Wavz Beach in Negril last Thursday. (Photo: Anthony ewis)

NEGRIL, Westmoreland — President of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, Richard Wallace says while there are concerns surrounding persons who attended the August 5-9 Dream Weekend not following COVID-19 protocols, the economic benefits to the resort town is crucial.

Negril has been reeling from a dip in business, caused by a downturn in the tourism industry, for the past 18 months.

“We do need the economic activity. We do need business to continue or grow in Negril. However, what we do not want to have is a spike in COVID cases or a fourth wave. So, we are concerned,” Wallace told the Jamaica Observer.

While Wallace was unable to provide quantitative figures, he noted that the economic benefits from Dream Weekend did not match previous years.

Media were not allowed inside the venue this year. However, videos have surfaced with patrons not adhering to COVID-19 protocols. Test results from a private medical team indicate that seven individuals returned positive results for the virus.

In addition, chief medical officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie announced that many people have been exposed to the virus from a series of parties that took place over the Independence weekend.

Wallace is hoping Dream Weekend will not result in worsening Jamaica's COVID-19 situation.

“We have seen the videos. We have heard stories of situations where protocols were not being followed and we are very concerned about it. However, we hope that it doesn't result in a spike,” expressed Wallace.

He pointed to a similar event at Rick's Café in May in Negril but said there is no evidence of a correlation between the recent spike in cases within the parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland and that party.

Wallace urged people to take personal responsibility.

The regional director for the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), St Andrade Sinclair said persons not following COVID-19 protocols is of concern.

He disclosed that inspectors were on the ground ensuring vendors had their food handlers' permit and sanitisers. He argued that where breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Act (failure to wear a mask and social distance, among other things) take place, the security forces can prosecute.

Efforts to reach the commanding officer for the Westmoreland police division, Superintendent Robert Gordon, were futile.

As of yesterday, a total of 1,231 deaths were reported while more than 55,000 have been confirmed positive.

Richard Wallace, president of Negril Chamber of Commerce
BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer

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