JIS News

Cinemas, playhouses and theatres will be conditionally reopened to the public for a period of 14 days, as of Sunday (July 5).

These entertainment venues have been closed since March as part of measures instituted by the Government to curtail the local spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Speaking in the House of Representatives on July 1, Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, noted that the reopening is subject to certain safety protocols that were arrived at, following intense discussions with the operators of these venues.

“One aspect of the protocols requires that not more than 60 per cent of seating capacity must be used, and there are other important mechanisms that have been put in place which speak to a maximum of four persons from the same family (being allowed to sit together),” he said.

In addition, the protocols also stipulate that there must be a gap of two seat spaces between each group of persons as well as between individual patrons.

The rules also speak to facilitating one-way foot traffic (one-way in and one-way out) inside cinemas where possible; and that at least two rows must be left empty to facilitate movement of persons across the width of the venue.

Additionally, promoters or managers must ensure that all actors are screened and where required, tested for COVID-19. For both indoor and outdoor venues, there must be at least six feet of space between the stage and the first row occupied by patrons. This area must be marked and physical barriers erected where possible.

Further, all cinemas, playhouses and theatres must be closed no later than one hour before the designated time for the nightly curfew.

In terms of other venues used to host plays, such as school auditoriums and community centres, Mr. McKenzie noted that the same rules will apply.

“Let me make the point that only plays will be facilitated. We are not talking about parties. We are talking about plays… and the same protocols will be in place [at these venues],” he added.

Mr. McKenzie further advised that the operators of all theatres, cinemas, playhouses and restaurants must allow officials from the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Jamaica Constabulary Force access to their establishments, to enable the monitoring of operations. He assured that these officials will have proper identification.

“There are other protocols, and the information will be shared with all stakeholders. Consultation and partnership remain critical to our efforts at normalisation, and some of these measures emerged from discussions with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica,” he said.

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