Thu | Sep 24, 2020

COVID-19 party crasher - 36 beaches, rivers ordered closed; delinquent promoters face six-month ban

Published:Wednesday | August 12, 2020 | 12:42 AM
Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie has announced tough new measures restricting access to some beaches and rivers.
Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie has announced tough new measures restricting access to some beaches and rivers.

Following on threats to tighten the restrictions on outdoor and entertainment activities if COVID-19 protocol breaches surrounding their operations continued, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie announced on Tuesday the closure of 17 beaches and 19 rivers.

These include Alligator Pond Beach, Spanish Bridge River, Noisy River, Little Dunn’s River, Hellshire Beach, Frenchman’s Cove, Blue Hole River, Ocho Rios Bay Beach, and Reggae Falls.

McKenzie told Parliament that operators have been invited to a meeting to discuss the concerns, but in the interim, the rivers and beaches will be closed effective Friday, August 14.

The local government minister has also clamped down on entertainment venues, revealing that as at August 24, venues will only be allowed to operate on specific days.

The days are Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

McKenzie announced that promoters seeking permits for events would have to apply through the municipal corporations at least 15 days in advance.

Promoters who breach the coronavirus rules could be banned from hosting events for up to six months.

The local government minister said that all promotions must include COVID-19-related guidelines.

“So apart from giving the name of the event and the date and the location, we have agreed that that information must be on the flyer so that the public knows that you must come prepared to get sanitised, wear your mask,” McKenzie said.

“There shall be audible public announcements every 15 minutes during the event, reminding patrons to wear masks when not drinking or eating and to observe physical-distancing protocols.”

The maximum crowd capacity at entertainment venues has been revised downwards from 280 to 230.

McKenzie said that promoters must be willing to self-regulate in order to keep their operations viable.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com