The reopening of the entertainment sector is a huge gamble | Letters

THE EDITOR, Madam:

It is now clear that the Government is moving towards a relaxation of the COVID-19 protocols. The latest proof is the approval given to organize Dream Weekend, a series of parties over several days, attracting thousands of customers.

It cannot be overstated that our entertainment industry generates significant income for many people and, indeed, contributes foreign currency and attracts tourists. As some have noted, the ideal approach in this pandemic is to find the perfect balance between life and livelihood. However, great caution should be exercised in this approach. It appears that there is now a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in other countries despite having fully developed health systems and relatively large numbers of their populations being fully vaccinated. For example, in the United States and the Netherlands, cases of COVID-19 have increased exponentially, especially with the new variant elta. In Jamaica, only five percent of the population is fully immunized, which is alarming. For regional comparison, in Trinidad and Tobago, 10.5% and in Barbados, more than 25% of the population has been fully immunized.

Considering all of these factors, the Jamaican government’s policy of reopening the entertainment business at this time is a huge and potentially dangerous gamble.

The reality is, whether we choose to accept it or not, that most Jamaicans are reckless about joining any sort of regimented structure in the sense of law and order. Compliance with COVID-19 protocols and regulations is no exception to this rule. Worse yet, at a large entertainment event recently held, customers were asked to pay more to be in a vaccinated section rather than pay less to be in the unvaccinated section.

One might well ask, where is the encouragement to have people vaccinated, and is not such a practice incongruous with the government’s vaccination policy, which allowed such events to occur? This point seems to have escaped the attention of the National People’s Party (PNP) health spokesperson, who is generally quite efficient and vocal. Then again, not much can be expected from the PNP, who at this point seem concerned with their own interpretation of what a reopening of the entertainment industry means. The flood of resignations within the party was punctuated by soliloquies from some of its main actors. This, in effect, provided a lot of entertainment for Labor.

I fervently wish the organizers of Dream Weekend are successful in their efforts and ensure that all COVID-19 protocols are followed. Dare I “dream” in the light of this last will or even of a viable opposition?

PIERRE CHAMPAGNIE, QC