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No permits will be granted for the hosting of entertainment events for the next two weeks, while those already issued will be cancelled and refunded.

This was announced by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, at a virtual press conference on August 24.

Mr. Holness explained that the action will help to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which has seen a recent spike in cases.

“The health authorities have advised that our surge in cases can be clearly linked to a number of activities – church conventions, funerals, parties and gatherings above the 20-person rule. There are a number of pictures and videos that have been circulating of parties with no mask-wearing, and no social distancing,” he said.

Despite agreements reached between the Government and entertainment industry stakeholders, persons have continued to breach the established COVID-19 health protocols, contributing to the continued increase in cases.

“As we are seeing, it is easier said than done to have events that are compliant with protocols, and, in fact, when the contact tracing is done, you’re seeing that many persons, even high-profile persons who are affected – you could trace right back to entertainment activities,” he said.

Mr. Holness said the Government has been very careful in granting approvals for entertainment events and when they are given, stakeholders are asked to ensure that the protocols are maintained.

“Try as they may, and some may have actually tried, it is always going to be difficult. Merriment and partying are not consistent with the conscious behaviour that is necessary to stay safe from COVID-19,” he argued.

Mr. Holness said the Government acknowledges that the entertainment sector is more than just fun; it is a business from which many persons earn a living, “but the Government has to weigh that against the risk it poses”.

“I ask the entertainment industry, people who are involved who have been hard hit, to please understand that this is something that the Government has to do and it is not that we are doing it in a callous way without understanding their side of it, but there is a national side to this thing now, which we have to be firm about – protecting the lives and safety of the Jamaican public,” he said.

The Prime Minister reminded that the virus is no respecter of office, of status – everyone can be infected. “However, if you take the infection prevention and control measures seriously, you will reduce significantly the possibility, the probability of being infected,” he added.

The infection prevention and control measures include the wearing of masks, no gathering in groups of more than 20, maintaining physical distancing of at least six feet, and sanitising/washing hands regularly.

“The recent surge in our numbers should’ve made it abundantly clear to everyone that the pandemic is far from over and that the risks are ever present… . There is no room for complacency,” Mr. Holness emphasised.

On Monday (August 24), Jamaica recorded another 83 COVID-19 cases. The total number of confirmed cases in the island now stands at 1,612.

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