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Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says that no permits have been granted by the municipal corporations for parties and events anywhere in Jamaica, and the staging of these illegal activities will be stopped by the police.

He was speaking during Tuesday’s (December 8) sitting of the House of Representatives.

A ban has been placed on the staging of parties and events as part of measures to reduce the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Minister McKenzie said that despite the ban, more than 300 events are being held every week, right across the country, in total breach of the health and safety protocols.

“There have been bike shows, wakes and grave-digging ceremonies, church services with numbers that have exceeded the requirement, round robins and street dances,” he noted.

Mr. McKenzie said that the Ministry is also seeing a worrying decline in the levels of compliance by operators of community bars and taverns, and there are nightclubs, especially in the Corporate Area, operating in defiance of the protocols.

“These are venues registered as restaurants that are, in fact, operating as nightclubs, in addition to nightclubs being run under the disguise of restaurants. Just last weekend, there was a major event that was held on Dunrobin Avenue. When the video was sent and the count of motor vehicles was done, nearly 150 motor vehicles/motorbikes were lining both sides of the road,” he said.

The Minister said he is also aware of a trend by promotors to use private pages on Facebook and other social media platforms to promote these illegal parties.

He displayed a promotional flyer for an event planned for Club Utopia in Bull Bay, St. Andrew, on December 9, noting that the information has been passed on to the police.

The Minister highlighted other events, which he said, will be stopped, including Kidz Mania family fun day, advertised for December 24 at Bourbon Beach in Negril; ‘Beat Street Pop Up Market’ for December 20 in West Kingston; and ‘Dub Club Love’, held weekly at Skyline Drive in upper St Andrew.

“The Government is concerned about this pattern of behaviour, which has serious implications for the country as we get deeper into the festive season,” Mr. McKenzie said.

He added that the Government has no intention of stifling the entertainment sector.

The Disaster Risk Management Order number 16 will remain in force until January 15, 2021. The Order imposes a ban on nightclubs and on parties of all kinds. Additionally, the 17 beaches and 19 rivers that were ordered closed in August will remain closed.

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