Fri | Jul 3, 2020

COVID-19 delays the return of Reggae Sunsplash

Published:Sunday | May 31, 2020 | 12:00 AM
From left: Sunsplash representatives Randy Mattis, festival manager; Debbie Bissoon, festival manager; and Tyrone Wilson, executive producer.
Crooner Sanchez belts out a hit in front of a large Reggae Sunsplash crowd at the Bob Marley Centre in Montego Bay, St James, in August 1989.
Crowd favourite Half Pint performs at Reggae Sunsplash in 2006.
Admiral Bailey in his element at the last staging of Reggae Sunsplash
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Organisers of Reggae Sunsplash have said that although fans will be left disappointed by the rescheduling of the event, they believe postponement was the right course of action. In a statement sent to The Gleaner on Friday, the team explained that with the coronavirus pandemic still affecting many across the globe, hosting the event in November, as was originally planned, would not be in everyone’s best interest.

“Over the last three months, we have carefully monitored the national and international response to the coronavirus pandemic in the healthcare, entertainment, and travel sectors. We have consulted vital government officials and leaders in the entertainment industry in Jamaica and overseas and have concluded this to be the best course of action for all,” a part of the statement read. “The global response to COVID-19 has been varied, and large gatherings remain a concern even as some activity resumes across the world. This return staging of Reggae Sunsplash expects to attract an audience size well into the thousands, and we are committed to ensuring that all our attendees are comfortable and safe to celebrate our music and culture together.”

SHARED DISAPPOINTMENT

In a subsequent telephone correspondence, festival manager Debbie Bissoon said that like patrons who have been looking forward to the event’s grand return after 14 years, organisers, too, are disappointed. “We were looking to make a big return with Reggae Sunsplash, and so we had high hopes and high expectations in terms of delivering an unforgettable music experience for our patrons, but I’m sure people will understand that this is what’s necessary,” she said. “With the size crowd we are expecting, we want to ensure everyone’s safety; that’s what comes first right now. This virus wasn’t foreseen, and it’s affecting everybody, and so the bigger picture here is everyone’s health.”

Bissoon was not keen on giving a date for the possible staging, pointing out that it would be presumptuous to specify when things in the global space are still uncertain. “We don’t know what’s going to happen in the industry over the next six to eight months, so I don’t want to give a date just yet. What I will say is that whenever we do return, we promise to deliver a quality festival experience.”