JaRIA chairman says no to vaccinated only events

January 25, 2022

"Unfortunate and divisive" is how Ewan Simpson, chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), describes suggestions regarding the hosting of vaccinated only entertainment events.

With the creative sector under lockdown for close to two years, some party and concert promoters have proposed such events as one way of getting the industry back on its feet, arguing that this has been the way forward in some countries. Among the entities examining this as a practical possibility is the annual summer festival, Reggae Sumfest. The organisers stated publicly last year that they are "considering" making the 2022 staging a vaccination only event.

Simpson, in making it plain that he was against the staging of vaccinated only events, said that the entire sector, which comprises both the vaxxed and the unvaxxed, is hurting, and used the hospitality industry as reference.

"That would be an unfortunate and very divisive option, especially since our industry is made up of vaccinated and unvaccinated practitioners, suppliers and patrons, all of whom are and have been affected, not just by the virus and its effect on their heath and livelihoods, but all of whom, vaccinated or not, continue to be at risk of contracting or transmitting the virus," Simpson told THE STAR.

He added, "The hospitality industry has successfully shown that it can be done! Their guests are not divided by vaccination status. They have maintained carefully managed protocols and have been very successful at clawing back their businesses over the past year and a half."

Simpson placed on the table suggestions that have been made even before the pandemic hit in 2020, particularly the establishment of special entertainment zones.

"The best option would be to create zones within which all patrons, practitioners and suppliers can safely enjoy Jamaica's rich cultural offerings without the scourge of this divisiveness.

Last October, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that only vaccinated persons can be allowed to attend events being hosted by public sector entities. He told the House of Representatives that it was part of new measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

"These events that are held by public entities are to be controlled events, meaning that the space within which the event is kept, all the protocols must be observed, but it is not a free-access space and the reason for that is that attendance at these events must be for the vaccinated only," he said. By January 28, the prime minister is expected to make an announcement regarding new COVID-19 measures.

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