Thu | Aug 5, 2021

Reopening of entertainment sector is a huge gamble

Published:Tuesday | July 20, 2021 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

It is now clear that the Government is moving towards a relaxation of the COVID-19 protocols. The latest evidence of this is the approval given to organise Dream Weekend, a series of parties over a number of days, attracting thousands of patrons.

It cannot be overstated that our entertainment sector generates significant income for many persons and, indeed, contributes to foreign exchange and attracts tourists. As noted by some, the ideal approach in this pandemic is to strike the perfect balance between lives and livelihoods. Great caution, however, must be exercised in this approach. It appears that there is now a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases in other countries despite them having a fully developed healthcare system and relatively high numbers of their population being fully vaccinated. For example, in the United States and the Netherlands, COVID-19 cases have risen exponentially, especially with the new elta variant. In Jamaica, only five per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, which is alarmingly low. By way of a regional comparison, in Trinidad and Tobago 10.5 per cent and in Barbados more than 25 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, the Government’s policy in Jamaica in the reopening of the entertainment sector at this time is a huge gamble and potentially dangerous.

The reality is, whether we choose to accept it or not, that most Jamaicans are insouciant to the adherence of any kind of regimented structure in the way of law and order. The compliance of COVID-19 protocols and regulations are not any exception to this. What is worse, at a recently held large entertainment event, patrons were asked to pay more for being in a vaccinated section as opposed to paying less to be in the unvaccinated section.

One may well ask, where is the encouragement in this to get persons vaccinated, and is not such a practice incongruous with the Government’s policy on vaccination, which has given authorisation of such events to take place? This point seemed to have escaped the attention of the People’s National Party (PNP) spokesperson on health, who is usually quite effective and vocal. Then again, much cannot be expected from the PNP, who, at this stage, seems preoccupied with its own rendition of what a reopening of the entertainment sector means. The flood of resignations within the party has been punctuated by soliloquies of some of its main actors. This, indeed, has provided much entertainment for the Labourites.

It is my fervent wish that the organisers of Dream Weekend will be successful in their endeavours and that they will see to it that all the COVID-19 protocols are observed. Do I dare to ‘dream’ in respect of the latter wish or even of a viable Opposition?

PETER CHAMPAGNIE, Q.C.