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Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, says $40 million has been approved by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for a special support package for creative and athletic practitioners who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“This is good news for our sectors. The greatest assistance that we can provide to our athletic and creative practitioners is to ensure that they can return to doing what they love to do in a way that secures public health,” she said.

The Minister was making her contribution to the 2020/21 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 14).

She noted that creative practitioners are already benefiting from $10.6 million in support under the Government’s COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme.

She pointed out that persons who have or who will receive funding under the CARE Programme will not be eligible for assistance under the special support package.

Ms. Grange told the House that the Ministry has been in discussion with the relevant stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health and Wellness and Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, for a phased reopening of entertainment and athletic activities.

So far, protocols have been approved for national athletes to resume training at Independence Park and the National Aquatics Centre, horse racing at Caymanas Park, golf at the Half Moon and Constant Spring golf clubs, and the staging of athletics time trials at Jamaica College last weekend to record official performances for athletes to be submitted to World Athletics.

“We are going through the approvals process for the resumption of other sports competitions and training for national-level athletes in discussion with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, health authorities as well as the various national federations/associations,” Ms. Grange informed.

She further mentioned that protocols were announced to permit the reopening of cinemas, theatres and playhouses as of July 5.

In addition, small outdoor concerts, parties, round robins, launches, religious celebrations and festivals, will be allowed to resume temporarily starting July 21.

“Entertainment, the cultural and creative industries, and sport all matter, not only because of their economic impact but because of how they help to improve our quality of life and provide a boost to our mental health as we face challenges, such as this pandemic,” Minister Grange said.

“Through these industries, many families have put food on their tables and roofs over their heads, our national profile is enlarged, people come here and do business with Jamaica because of our creative and athletic people,” she pointed out.

Minister Grange said that the entertainment, cultural and creative industries, including sports, contributes approximately $195 billion to the Jamaican economy each year, and employs 76,000 people.

She said the Ministry estimates that since COVID-19, as much as $26 billion has been lost and more than 40,000 creative and sports-related jobs have been affected.

She pledged that the Ministries will continue to work through the issues and protocols that will be needed to reopen other types of entertainment activities and is reminding stakeholders to “comply with the protocols so that we can get back to work, improve our quality of life while maintaining public health”.

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