Events to resume in designated venues
"We know not the hour ...Yet signs all foretell that the moment is nearing," Entertainment Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange said yesterday as she signalled the pending reopening of the sector.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness is set to announce the circumstances that will govern the reopening of the entertainment sector when he speaks in Parliament on June 22.
"I just want to say to the voices out there that we are going to have to work this through, and no matter what noise is made out there, we are going to ensure it is done the right way and the safe way," the minister said.
Grange, however, foreshadowed that strict protocols would govern the process. These are likely to include having events at designated venues and restricting the number of patrons. She said that the ministry is prepared to subsidise the cost of the venues to allow for events to take place.
"These venues include facilities at Independence Park and the Trelawny Stadium, the Port Royal Entertainment Zone including Fort Rocky and Fort Charles, as well as Seville Heritage Park," Grange said as she made her contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament.
She said that her ministry has proposed a list of venues that can be retrofitted to comply with the proposed protocols.
The entertainment sector was shut down last March after Jamaica recorded its first few cases of the novel coronavirus. It then reopened under strict guidelines in July, 2020, but was shut down one month later after Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie said that there were rampant breaches.
Staying in touch
Grange said that she has been staying in touch with members of the entertainment sector, and the majority of them understand that the Government has to be methodical in giving the green light for entertainment to resume.
"We will reopen but we are going to ensure we reopen at a time when it is safe to do so," she said.
In the meantime, Grange said that an additional $10 million is being made available to members of the entertainment, culture and creative industries. Some $40 million was initially provided for the players, many of whom were unable to access the funds due to technical issues with the electronic portal.
"We have now migrated to a different platform and we're in the final phase of developing an app that will allow more members of the entertainment, culture and creative industries to register to the e-Registry and apply for grants. I am pleased to announce that the promised $40 million has now grown to $50 million," Grange said.
The minister said that more than 700 practitioners received grants through the CARE programme and through special grants from the entertainment ministry last year.