HOPEWELL, Hanover — Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie has made it clear that it would be irresponsible of the Government to allow patrons to participate in the Reggae Boyz' upcoming World Cup qualifiers home games.
The Reggae Boyz are scheduled to play two matches over the next two weeks — Mexico on January 27 and Costa Rica on February 2, inside the National Stadium.
The Government had allowed a maximum of 5,000 spectators for a recent match against the United States of America in October, however, since December the country's novel coronavirus positivity rate has spiked, suggesting that the country is experiencing its fourth wave.
McKenzie told reporters in Hopewell, Hanover, on Wednesday that while the Government was in discussions with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) surrounding the possibility of having spectators attend the match at the stadium, the current outbreak of the virus has tied its hands.
“We were in discussions with the JFF surrounding having spectators for the next open game, but because of this new outbreak it would be irresponsible, based on the dangers of this thing, to have a mass gathering,” stated McKenzie.
The Government' s decision had left JFF President Michael Ricketts disappointed. For Ricketts, the blow came at a time when Prime Minister Andrew Holness had granted an extension to the current COVID-19 measures to include reduced curfews and continued relaxation of those measures.
McKenzie said the Government will possibly allow spectators once the country has survived from the outbreak.
“Once we have gotten over the hurdle [outbreak] the Government will, and we are working to see how best it can be done, but the bigger question is that all of us must be prepared to take personal responsibility and to do what is necessary to restore the country back to a higher sense of normalcy,” stated McKenzie.