Mon | Jul 26, 2021

Rick’s cleared to reopen

Published:Wednesday | June 9, 2021 | 12:13 AM


With no indications of penalties for breaching the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA), Negril’s Rick’s Café has received permission from the Government of Jamaica to reopen.

Seven days after it was ordered closed for staging a Mocha Fest party, which attracted hundreds of patrons and contravened a raft of coronavirus safety laws, Rick’s has been cleared to resume business, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development said in a press statement on Tuesday.

The Jamaican attraction has also been recertified by the Tourism Product Development Company after one week of extensive training. Its expired Places of Amusement Licene has also been renewed.

However, the decision to reopen has been viewed as a “slap on the wrist” by residents of the western resort town, with at least two business operators describing Jamaica as a country for sale.

“We have no pride ... and it is the fault of the People’s National Party (PNP), because they are no Opposition, so the Holness administration does anything it wants. Without opposition, Government goes unchecked,” said a resident who lives nearby Rick’s Café.

The householder requested anonymity.

And a hotelier also criticised Opposition Leader Mark Golding who he believes was unsympathetic to the plight of hotels, whose bottom lines have bled as travel and other restrictions decimated arrivals in 2020.

“He obviously knows nothing about the suffering that some of us have been going through,” said the hotelier, who requested that his name not be published because he does brisk business with Rick’s.

Desmond McKenzie, the local government minister tasked with execution of the DRMA, said the Government remains vigilant about appropriately managing COVID-19 while gradually reopening the economy.

Efforts to get a comment from Superintendent Robert Gordon, commanding officer of the Westmoreland Police Division, were unsuccessful.

The Government seemed to have made a 360-degree turn in relation to serious concerns about the breaches by the Negril entity.

Last week, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said he was expecting that if there was any breach, the full application of the law would be guaranteed.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett had warned that breaches in the hospitality sector would not be tolerated.

“All our partners, local and international, who will engage our tourism product over the next months – as long as the Disaster Risk Management Act exists – must be compliant in all regards,” was the stern warning Bartlett made.