Wed | Jun 16, 2021

Entertainment players welcome PM’s reopening comments

Published:Saturday | July 4, 2020 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle/Staff Reporter
Andrew Bellamy
Scenes from Solar Breakfast last year.
Kamal Bankay
Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Key players in the entertainment industry are overjoyed at the news that the Government could start considering proposals to usher in a phased reopening of the sector by the end of the week.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness revealed that having heard the plight of the industry players, his Government, although cautious, was ready to make assessments that could lead to the sector’s restart.

He said that the short-term goal was to open some entertainment venues during July.

Speaking with The Gleaner, Kamal Bankay, chairman of the Sports and Entertainment Network in the Ministry of Tourism, said he welcomed the willingness to at least open conversations regarding the industry’s restart.

“Some people believe that the entertainment industry is not an industry, but we are, and we are one of the biggest industries in Jamaica. With over 76,000 persons involved and an estimated economic impact of J$195 billion annually, I believe that after seeing all of this data and information (proposals for safe reopening), the prime minister is at a point where he is comfortable to discuss it,” he said. “We recognise that the economy itself has to open in phases, and entertainment would not have been the first, naturally, because, obviously, it is one of the most difficult to manage. But based on the excellent job that the PM, Ministry of Health, and all the other agencies and ministries have been doing so far, I think now is as good a time as ever.”

Promoter Andrew Bellamy, who was among the first to open up conversations around a phased reopening, was also happy to hear that the plight of his colleagues had not fallen on deaf ears.

“I’m confident that between the honourable prime minister and minister of entertainment and culture, a favourable, practical, timely, and safe solution will be developed for the reopening of the industry,” he said. “We won’t be anywhere close to where we were pre-COVID, but the industry certainly can be up and running by September 2020.”

Bellamy suggested that the entertainment sector was one of the first to be closed and is the last to reopen because of how it is perceived but also pointed out its importance.

“Thousands upon thousands depend on the entertainment and creative industry for their survival and that of their families, and so without a doubt, we need to start the process as quickly as the prime minister says it’s safe for us to proceed,” he said.

Bankay and Bellamy are urging their colleagues to follow rules and regulations stipulated by the Government if and when the green light is given.


“If we truly value our freedom to exist and operate in the entertainment industry, we obviously need to self-regulate so that we are above scrutiny in the event that we come under scrutiny. We have to follow regulations to the T. It would be sad that if we are given a set of rules and regulations to observe and live with and operate under, that we would not do that. If we do not adhere to rules outlined by the Government, we may have our freedom of reopening revoked,” said Bankay. “The entertainment industry has to galvanise, come together, and work with the protocols and not try to stand out and be defiant. The reality is that large events, very large events, are not here right now, so the smaller events are what will be monitored right now, and the better we are at handling those is the quicker we can get back to having medium-sized events and large events because that is really the goal.”

Bellamy said there has to be a new norm with sanitisation measures, health precautions, and social distancing during the first phase of the reopening.

“We all, as stakeholders and industry players, must play our role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and adhere to whatever measures are implemented. This is the only way we can protect our industry and breathe life back into such a major economic driver for Jamaica,” Bellamy said. “Assuming all newly developed entertainment protocols are implemented and adhered to with strict monitoring by the authorities and no COVID spikes from the initial reopening, then we can proceed to other phases, which will facilitate larger numbers within events.”