Golding cautious about reopening entertainment
Opposition Leader Mark Golding has expressed concern about a possible reopening of the entertainment sector in light of the recent spike in Jamaica's COVID-19 numbers.
Speaking at a virtual press conference yesterday, Golding said he is aware and understands the cry of the industry, but opined that a reopening at this point could be dangerous.
"In the height of this pandemic and the spike that we now have, I think that we have to be extremely careful about pursuing that at this particular moment," he said. "This particular industry is one that affects the masses of the people because we know that entertainment is a source of income and survival in many low-income communities in Jamaica, where persons make a living from doing people's hair or selling jerk chicken etc, and none of that has been happening because the industry shutdown."
There have been many desperate calls for the entertainment industry to be reopened in recent months. Key players in the industry have penned letters to authorities, and expressed their concerns via their social media platforms, among other channels.
Among the voices, Kamal Bankay, a member of the Entertainment Advisory Board and chairman of Dream Entertainment, called for a reopening but with guidelines. In a proposal he sent to Entertainment Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange and Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, Bankay asked for events to be held but in respect of physical-distancing guidelines and other COVID-19 protocols. Golding said that Bankay's request may not be safe for Jamaica's well-being.
"I know entertainment professionals are of the view that measures can be put in place and monitored that would enable more than just the virtual online entertainment to resume, but it may not work for the best," said Golding. Jamaica on Monday recorded 147 new cases, pushing the total to 21,826. There were also six deaths, pushing the country's tally to 405.
Just like players in the entertainment industry, Golding said that he is hoping COVID-19 will be long gone soon and the country can revert to its original state.
"I think as soon as it becomes possible, we can allow closely monitored events where social-distancing protocols are maintained, so as to allow people who live off that industry to resume some form of income," he said.