FALMOUTH, Trelawny — Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie has disclosed that the St Elizabeth event during which at least two people were killed and others hospitalised is one of the more than 600 illegal parties that have been held across the nation since Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced protocols for the reopening the entertainment sector.
“We have noticed that even before any approvals have been granted, based on assessment that has been done, [which] tells us that in excess of 600 illegal parties have been held across the country since the announcement. We are taking note. One illegal party in St Elizabeth resulted in a shooting incident and the loss of lives,” McKenzie stated.
“I want to make this abundantly clear to the entertainment sector, it is in your interest to ensure that we have full compliance, permits are required to stage entertainment events. And anyone who puts on an event without a permit is in violation of the law,” McKenzie told yesterday's meeting of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation.
“We cannot allow a few indisciplined people to derail an industry which is critical to a number of persons, because in my own constituency entertainment is what a lot of people use for survival. Government can't turn its back on you, pretend as if we can't see and we don't hear.”
“The MCs (municipal corporations) have been receiving applications and the MCs have been granting approvals and we are going to be putting more boots on the ground and we are going to ensure that the restrictions that were eased, based on the prime minister's announcement, are not abused by the sector,” McKenzie said.
At the same time, the minister said he will be meeting with funeral home operators as there are reports that some them are also in defiance of the protocols.
“Parties alone are not in violation; funerals, too. And I intend to again engage them in a meeting because we accepted the proposals that were put on the table by them, and while many of them have been true to their word, there are some who have been defying the protcols that the Government has put in place,” said McKenzie.
“One of the protocols that is not being observed is that there ought to be no processions with a funeral and that I observe, in some instances, is not taking place. And while we appreciate that there is a tradition all of us as Jamaicans enjoy, but there are some things we have to hold back on based on the situation that faces the country. We want to work with everybody but we are urging that we get compliant,” he said.
He warned that the measures announced in Parliament by the prime minister go up until the 10th of August, “so what it means is that if we are not convinced then actions can be taken, and even before the 10th of August”.
A stern McKenzie also said “some local authority also not doing what they supposed to be doing”, as it has come to his attention that some markets were being opened for business on Sundays.
“Markets must not be opened on Sundays. And I have gotten reports of markets being operated on Sundays. Markets are to be opened from Mondays to Saturdays and closed one hour before the curfew. On Sundays markets must remain closed for the purpose of cleaning. There can be no excuse for markets to be in operation on Sundays,” he said.
He explained that the Government wants face-to-face classes to resume in September, and therefore it is important that COVID-19 cases are not allowed to spike.
“... Everybody has to play a part and I am urging the entertainment people, I am urging those persons who are putting on funerals, to remember that there is a protocol,” said the minister.
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