Opening of sport a good sign for entertainment – EAB Chairman
Chairman of the Entertainment Advisory Board (EAB), Howard McIntosh, sees the Government’s recent decision to put measures in place to allow vaccinated fans to attend the World Cup qualifier game between the Reggae Boyz and the USA at the National Stadium on November 16 as an encouraging move for the entertainment industry.
“This is a positive indication of the recovery of the sport and entertainment industries in Jamaica and could very well be the first step in a return of fans to all sporting and entertainment events with proper planning and coordination,” an elated McIntosh said.
The Government had previously announced that spectators would have to wait until January 2022 to be able to watch a Reggae Boyz game in person in Jamaica. But they reversed the decision following an emergency meeting with the Jamaica Football Federation. Some 5,000 fully vaccinated fans will now be allowed inside the stadium to watch the game.
McIntosh told The Gleaner, “We are hopeful that the recently introduced events authorisation will prove to be useful and that it will be used for other events as well until such time when the pandemic is under control.”
The entertainment industry remains padlocked with the current curfew regime of 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily, ensuring that nightlife is at zero. However, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has repeatedly given hints that a new vaccination policy will be implemented soon. He has made it clear that while the Government will not be making vaccines mandatory, the vaccinated will be given special treatment.
The policy to be implemented will include ‘vaccinated-only’ events, as is now being done in sport. Earlier this year, the promoters of I Love Soca introduced a VIP vaccinated-only section at the event to ensure that patrons who so chose could be in “a controlled space shared with fellow persons, highly protected from COVID-19 through being fully vaccinated”.
In July, Josef Bogdanovich, chief executive officer of Reggae Sumfest and DownSound Entertainment, had stated that preparation for what was then a December staging of Reggae Sumfest included “a line and an area for people who are vaccinated and can prove it”.
McIntosh also heaped praises on Downsound Entertainment for hosting a ‘vax day’ and noted that it would be a good move for other entertainment entities – production houses, for example – to do similar initiatives targeting the sector.
“It would be in keeping with the general push right now to get as many persons vaccinated as possible. With multiple vaccination initiatives being held across the nation by numerous corporate and entertainment companies, the EAB is applauding the progress made in the national vaccination programme. We are supportive of all measures to rid the country of this pandemic,” McIntosh asserted.
He was fervent in his compliance message from the EAB which, he said, would continue to encourage all Jamaicans to obey the COVID-19 protocols set out by the Government.
“Compliance with the protocols is key as we work towards playing our part in contributing to the economy through the safe and sustained reopening of the entertainment industry in Jamaica. This we advocate for through holistic health preservation to include vaccination,” he stated.