Promoters get green lightWednesday, June 23, 2021
BY KEDIESHA PERRY
UPTOWN Mondays conceptualiser Whitfield “Whitty” Henry says preparations are already under way for July's resumption of the popular party series following yesterday's announcement by Prime Minister Andrew Holness of a phased reopening of the entertainment sector.
“Mi tek anything mi get. I never had anything, and now I have something. It's a must that I keep Uptown Mondays right away. Memba seh we did have we sound system and liquor put down before COVID, so all we have to do now is buy some fresh liquor, string up the sound and start right away. Mi ready now. We a blast off back,” Henry told the Jamaica Observer.
The 20-year-old Uptown Mondays is held at Savannah Plaza on Constant Spring Road in St Andrew.
In his address during a sitting of the House of Representatives, Holness cautioned Jamaicans to be mindful of a possible third wave of the virus, if protocols were not adhered to.
“The risk of the third wave is ever present. If we have a spike in the summer it would have an effect on schools' reopening in September,” he said.
“In crafting the approach to events and entertainment, we have paid careful attention to reducing and mitigating the risk on the one hand, while optimising the social and economic benefits of a phased resumption on the other. The Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, working with industry practitioners, have developed the protocols to facilitate this,” Holness continued.
According to the prime minister, effective July 1, small events will be permitted with no more than 100 attendees, including organisers and support personnel. These events can be concerts, parties, round robins, festivals, community events, corporate mixers, handing-over or ground-breaking ceremonies.
Promoters of large-scale events will be required to submit an application to the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport to see if the arrangements meet the requirements. If the ministry is satisfied, it will forward the application to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). The ODPEM will consult with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the municipal corporation, and any other relevant authority, and if they are satisfied, the application for the event to be held at a specified place and time will be approved.
The municipal corporations have agreed to reduce the cost of applying for permits and licences by 50 per cent. Additionally, several government-owned venues will be “rented for free” for hosting large events. These are: National Stadium complex, the Trelawny Stadium, Fort Rocky, and Fort Charles, as part of the Port Royal Entertainment Zone, Seville and the Ranny Williams entertainment centre and facilities under the management of The Port Authority of Jamaica, including the Falmouth and Port Royal piers.
Also on July 1, the curfew start time will be extended from 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm on Mondays to Saturdays. On Sundays, the curfew begins at 6:00 pm. All curfews end at 5:00 am the following day.
Popular sound system operator Marlon “Boom Boom” Wizard, principal of Boom Sundays in Grant's Pen, Kingston, is positive that the sector will be reopened further as the year progresses.
“At least we have somewhere to start from. My events will start back once my tour of England finish on July 16. We will have the same protocols in place fi mek sure seh the people dem safe; like sanitiser, mask, social distance and temperature gun, but my venue dem big enough. By August, when the prime minister talk again, him aguh open up the place some more,” he told the Observer.
The entertainment sector was shuttered in March of last year following the country's first recorded case of the novel coronavirus. The Government made attempts to reopen the sector between July and August of last year on a limited basis but was forced to backtrack three weeks later due to a spike in the number of cases.
Meanwhile, Chantele “ZJ Nova” Roye, promoter of popular foam and water party Drenchhed, added that the likelihood of the industry returning to normalcy depends on the diligence of patrons.
“I feel like if we all work together and do our part in ensuring that we adhere to the measures in place right now, then we can definitely reopen the industry as soon as possible. So, it's really up to us,” she said.
The event usually attracts between 3,000 to 4,000 patrons. ZJ Nova, who is also a disc jockey, said she is still sceptical about submitting an application for her event to be held at this time.
“I would have to know more about the protocol process where that's concerned, because larger events are definitely going to be harder to control unless everyone in the crowd is fully vaccinated,” Roye explained.
Nonetheless, she is pleased with the Government's leniency.
“I'm good with it because I really didn't expect everything to open all at once. It has to be a step-by-step process. So, the extended curfew hours and the fact that events can now be held has put us in a better position than we were before, and it allows people within the entertainment sector who have been out of work to actually benefit from this,” she said.
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