The unmasked and COVID tests on show outside Dream Weekend venueThursday, August 05, 2021
WESTMORELAND, Jamaica — Spooked by some revellers' failure to follow COVID-19 protocols ahead of entering the venue, a number of people who showed up on Thursday for the annual Dream Weekend in Negril opted not to go inside.
Paul Henry travelled from St Catherine for his first ever experience of the popular show. He told the OBSERVER ONLINE that he and his friend Marvin Richards opted not to go inside because of what they saw on the outside of the venue when they showed up.
“Mi kind a scared fi go in cause nuff people nah wear no mask and this thing yah [COVID-19] you have fi tek it serious,” said Henry. Others who asked not to be quoted had similar concerns.
Superintendent Winchester Watson from the traffic enforcement division within the public safety and traffic enforcement branch confirmed that there were lapses in mask-wearing. "You still have persons moving around not wearing their protective masks and we [would have] spoken to them about that. We try to educate them on the importance of wearing their mask," he said. He and his team had travelled from Kingston to support the Westmoreland police with ensuring there was a smooth flow of traffic and general order was maintained. There was a strong police presence at Wavz Beach, the event venue, as well as at the ticket sales office at the Kool Runnings Adventure Park.
Earlier in the day, a town crier announced the availability of COVID-19 tests under a tent on the outside of the venue. The fee was $4,000 and results would be “sent to your phone or email right away", said the hawker. It is unclear how many, if any, of the patrons inside took up the offer. The size of the crowd was also unclear as the usual media passes to cover the event were not forthcoming this year.
Gajay Reid who has been vending at Dream Weekend for many years said sales were slow this year. “Nah sell nutten fast. It slow,” he said from his spot outside the venue. Meanwhile Henry, who opted not to go inside, was surprised that there were not more people milling around outside. "Mi did come fi see di crowd. Maybe if mi did see di excitement, mi woulda in deh already but a one and two [people] mi see ah go in deh. It nuh really [push] mi fi go inside deh," he said.
Superintendent Watson theorised that what patrons described as a poor turnout may have been partially caused by the 8:00 pm curfew, restrictions placed on the event and the limitation on the number of persons who may enter the venue. It is understood that approximately 20,000 persons are allowed inside while the closing time for the event, which runs from August 5-9, is 7:00 pm.
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