BRT seeks green light for Emancipation weekend staging
The organisers of Beach Road Trip (BRT) Weekend are seeking permission from the Jamaican authorities to stage their party on Emancipation weekend, July 31-August 2. More than 3,000 pre-sold ticket holders were getting ready for the Jamaican debut of BRT Weekend, which was set March 13 to 15, when COVID-19 showed up on local soils and forced organisers to pull the plug.
Now, with Prime Minister Andrew Holness telegraphing that the economy would be gradually reopening, and that plans are afoot for the country to start welcoming tourists again, the BRT team has drafted a COVID- 19 safety plan which they said have been shared with local authorities.
There is currently a ban on the staging of entertainment events, which is among measures instituted to contain the spread of the virus.
"If there is a chance for large gathering to be allowed for 2020, BRT Weekend is in the position to execute. Whether it's under the conditions we proposed or any conditions required by the Jamaica authorities," Hans Mullings, executive producer of the popular weekend series, told THE STAR.
"If we have to execute social distancing in the events, so be it! Let's discuss what that will look like," Mullings added.
BRT, which started nine years ago, pulls thousands of visitors to venues in various locations, including California, Florida, New Jersey, Dominican Republic, and Turks and Caicos. Had it not been for COVID-19, Jamaica would have had its BRT debut in March, during the spring break. While noting that researchers around the globe have labelled events "super-spreaders" for coronavirus, the BRT organisers say they are prepared to work with the Jamaican authorities to institute measures that could lead to the safe staging of their entertainment events.
Their plan focuses the implementation of protection measures, including on-site COVID-19 screening by health professionals, disinfectant equipment and areas, revised check-in and bar service procedures, increasing security personnel, and strongly enforcing the wearing of masks.
Mullings is convinced that most of their patrons would not only wear masks, but would also follow any measures imposed to contain the spread of the virus. He said, however, that having sufficient security personnel to police the wearing of masks is critical.
"We understand that coronavirus is very serious and we take the lives of our patrons very seriously; therefore, there will be no warnings on this type of matter. You break the rule, you're out," Mullings said.
The BRT boss said that the 'COVID-safe' proposal was shared with the health department, St Ann police and the Urban Development Corporation last week. The St Ann police was intrigued by the proposal and asked for a proposed site plan to show how BRT Weekend would be laid out, if larger gatherings were permitted," Mullings said.
At present, no more than 1o persons are allowed to gather in public spaces, except in certain businesses; funerals, where 15 persons are allowed; and at churches, as long as the space is big enough. Churchgoers are required to wear masks, the chior is not allowed to sing, and persons are told to be two arm's length from each other, which is about one person per 40 square feet.