'Sector to rebound'
A dancehall scene
Matalon lauds relaxation of restrictions

GARY Matalon, co-owner of Kingston Live Entertainment (KLE) Group, says Jamaica's entertainment sector stands to benefit from the relaxation of several other COVID-19 measures, which takes effect today.

“Well, I'm definitely encouraged that there is some relaxation of the restrictions and I'm optimistic that we will move closer and closer to a starting back up of entertainment options,” Matalon told the Jamaica Observer's Splash.

“The industry has been locked off for far too long now. I think that, obviously, managing the health risks is paramount but I'm also very aware of the amount of people that depend on the industry,” he continued.

KLE Group is the operator of popular eatery Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records, which also doubles as a live entertainment venue.

Effective today, the curfew hours have been lengthened from 11:00 pm 0to midnight. It ends 5:00 am the following day.

The limit on funerals has been increased to a maximum of 100 people, and the maximum number of persons at events hosted by public entities has been increased from 50 to 100.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness also announced an end to the travel authorisation requirement through the JAMCOVID platform and travel-related quarantine, effective Tuesday, March 1.

The prime minister, in his recent address to the nation, noted a “rapid improvement” in the COVID-19 situation in the country.

As of Thursday, 25.71 per cent of Jamaica's population was vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

Some major entertainment staples such as Reggae Sumfest and Dream Weekend have already begun advertising dates for summer stagings.

Matalon added that he understands that a reopening, or partial reopening of the sector, is dependent on vaccination levels.

“We're at a stage now where markets all over the world are open, to varying degrees, and I think that for us, we need to get ahead of all of that. Each market is different and there are gonna be different characteristics that are affecting the decisions of those governments. In particular, I know, Jamaica, for example, has a very low vaccination rate and I think that's one of the things that's causing us to be a bit behind. But, not withstanding that, my understanding of it is that the infection rates are going down and we can, in a very responsible way, get the ball rolling again,” he said.

Jamaica's entertainment sector has been suspended since March 2020, when the country recorded its first case of the virus. It is estimated that the sector has lost more than $2 billion.

Gary Matalon
BY KEDIESHA PERRY Observer writer

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