The Dream Weekend begins…
Organisers say safety is top of the list
It is touted as the Caribbean’s largest party festival, and Dream Weekend kicks off today along the seven-mile beach strip on Norman Manley Boulevard in the resort town of Negril, Westmoreland. It’s all systems go for the promoters, Dream Entertainment, which was granted approval by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management to stage seven events - Celebrity Playground, Yush, TwistedSpiritz, Daydreams, Wet n Wild, Mawin After, and Igloo - from August 5 to 9.
Cognisant of the ongoing pandemic and, possibly, the frowns of disapproval from some quarters, like the Medical Association of Jamaica, which has publicly stated that there is growing concern in the medical field about the decision to continue allowing large-scale events “because those events could become superspreading events”, the organisers have made safety their number-one priority in their effort to stage their summer party series “without a hitch”.
Their social media is flooded with messages speaking directly to Dreamers, as their supporters are called, about the necessity to either get vaccinated to attend or have a negative COVID-19 test. The terms and conditions for entry for locals and the throngs of foreigners who descend on Negril each year for the festival are clearly outlined.
“Be FULLY vaccinated by July 22, 2021. You must present your vaccine card to Ministry of Health (MOH) officials at our Redemption Centre, Kool Runnings Adventure Park, Negril, between August 5 and August 9 or have a negative COVID test result. The test must be administered NO SOONER than August 3, 2021. For those doing their COVID test in Jamaica, the test must be done with an MOH-approved entity. For international travellers arriving at the Sangster International Airport (MBJ) in Montego Bay, you can be verified BY MOH at the Dream Wknd desk in the airport between August 3 and August 8. All other guests, staff , and suppliers must have their tests verified by MOH at our Redemption Centre, Kool Runnings Adventure Park, Negril, between August 5 and August 9,” a post on Instagram stated.
Kool Runnings Water Park, Wavz, and Long Bay Beach 1 are the venues that will see the Dreamers gather for fun and frolic, but this time, the promoters say that there will be COVID marshals in place to ensure that all protocols are adhered to. Notably, all guests, staff, and suppliers meeting the requirements will receive what they call “a COVID-negative armband”, which carries special instructions and privileges. “This band must be worn at all times and is required to redeem a season band or enter any of our event venues at any time. If you lose your COVID negative armband, you will be required to return to the Redemption Centre to be verified again. Sanitised shuttle buses, equipped with sanitisers, will be roving the Negril strip to and from events for the patrons’ convenience.”
Kamal Bankay, chairman of Dream Entertainment, while emphasising that no tickets will be sold at the event gates, also explained: “We are implementing a series of measures, from the redemption of bands to access to the events and general movement at and after events. All pre-sold tickets and COVID-19 negative verification are done at the Kool Runnings Water Park in Negril.”
He added: “Dream Entertainment understands the great responsibility we have to maintain the safety of all patrons, [and] as such, everyone must wear a mask unless they’re eating or drinking. We will have a number of COVID marshals roaming the grounds to ensure full compliance. The set-up of the events also takes into consideration social distancing.”
Today’s event, Celebrity Playground, will see revellers, colour-coded in red and white outfits, partying with the stars at Wavz Beach from 12 noon to 7 p.m.
Among the artistes scheduled to perform live over the five days are Dexta Daps, Ding Dong, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Laa Lee, Jah Vinci, 10Tik, Iwaata, Qban, and more.