Cops shut down ‘mini gala’

April 27, 2021
Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor
Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor

Cops stumbled upon a "mini gala" in Vineyard Town, St Andrew, on Sunday where scores of persons were partying in breach of COVID-19 regulations, the vast majority of them neither wearing masks nor observing physical-distancing guidelines.

"The party was held on a big open complex that was usually called House of Dreads. Cars were parked inside and the venue concealed, so driving on the road we couldn't pick it up so easily, but when we got inside it was like a mini gala," Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor told THE STAR.

Amateur footage shows a venue that was prepared with eye-catching fabric decor, completed with breakfast party-style bistro tables.

McGregor said that Sunday's event, which was one of the latest parties to be shut down by cops under the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA), the chief legislative tool being used by the Government to slow the spread of COVID-19, shows that people will go to great lengths to stage events.

Under the DRMA, events like parties and round robins are prohibited. This has been the case for nearly a year, which has caused party-craving persons to push back by staging events.

It is also unlawful for persons to breach curfew orders or to be in the public space without face masks.

Checks by THE STAR last week revealed that 179 persons appeared before the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court for breaches of the DRMA.

McGregor said that Sunday's event, which began early in the morning until it was shut down by the cops just before 2 p.m., "Tells us that people are going out of their way to go around the regulations and host illegal events."

The senior lawman said it appears that a lot of people have not made the connection between their presence at events such as parties, and a rise in COVID-19 cases. Jamaica, as of Sunday, has recorded 45,145 cases of the novel coronavirus, 23,429 of which are still active. Some 253 persons are in hospitals as a result of the virus, which has claimed 761 lives since it was discovered in the island last March.

Highest number of positive cases

Health officials say that young people account for the highest number of positive cases, but it is persons over 60 who are paying with their lives mostly.

"The awareness of citizens is just not there," McGregor said. "It is getting better from where it was, but it is clear that people are not abiding by the guidelines." McGregor said that "90 per cent of the people" at Sunday's illegal party were not wearing masks.

"When I asked why they weren't wearing they said mask and socialising doesn't fit. Therein lies the dilemma because this is how the virus continues to spread," the policeman told THE STAR. He said that managers of the facility, along with the disc jockeys at the party and partygoers who were caught, have been prosecuted.

"We will continue to make an example out of the party promoters because if they don't put them on, people wouldn't turn out," said McGregor.

"I'm appealing to the organisers of events to sit together and devise an action plan as to how they go forward when governance comes to them. We are going to have to exist within COVID, but it has to be done in a structured and organised manner. But going beyond the rules is not doing any good for anybody at all," the lawman said.

Other News Stories