JAMAICA | Breaches of COVID-19 Protocols Will Not be Tolerated in the Tourism Sector – Bartlett
KINGSTON, June 1, 2021 - Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has warned that breaches of the established protocols put in place to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, will not be tolerated in the tourism sector.
Bartlett was in a statement reacting to revelation of the controversial staging of the Mocha Fest event at Rick’s Café in Negril was said to be in direct breach of the Government’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Bartlett stressed that “the Tourism Product Development Company Ltd. (TPDCo), which is a public body of the Ministry of Tourism, has acted immediately to ensure that appropriate steps were taken to punish the entity that was in breach of the protocols.”
“I want to make it very clear that the Ministry of Tourism will not tolerate any breaches whatsoever of the protocols that we have established to facilitate the safe operation of the sector. All our partners, local and international, who will engage our tourism product over the next few months – and as long as the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) exists – must be compliant in all regards,” added the Minister.
TPDCo has withdrawn Rick’s Café’s COVID-19 compliance certification with immediate effect and Rick’s Café will be required to undergo a re-certification exercise to ensure strict adherence to the established COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols before it can be allowed to accept visitors again.
Additionally the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has announced that it has ordered Rick’s Café closed for seven days and that the management of the establishment has been summoned to a meeting with officials from the Ministry and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) on Monday.
“I am deeply saddened by the fact that such a breach has occurred, however the various arms of Government have acted immediately and firmly,” said Minister Bartlett.
“As Minister, I am deeply saddened by any activity whatsoever which breaches any element of the DRMA. These breaches undermine the protocols that we worked so hard to create and the resilient corridors which have gained international recognition because of the high compliance level which we have had and the impeccable record of very low instances of infection,” said Bartlett.
“All activities which are being undertaken within the sector must comply with the protocols established. Failing which, the security forces are well aware of their actions and their rights in that regard,” he warned.
On Sunday, Opposition Leader Mark Golding in an intervirew with the Observer, said he did "not subscribe to claims by the Government that it was not aware of the Mocha Fest party which was staged at the Rick's Café in Negril on Thursday night in clear breach of the Government's COVID-19 health and safety protocols."
Golding reportedly told Observer writer Anthony Lewis: “I think that the Government has some eggs on its face over it because they are pretending they didn't know about it. That's rubbish because there is very little going on. So, a major event like that in Negril must have been known to the Government.”
“The truth is that they (Government) have been quietly trying to facilitate the tourism industry which I understand, but I think that the way that entertainment events have been treated locally and affecting our Jamaican people versus foreigners is just not right. We can't have the law pickled with this double standard,” Lewis quotes Golding as saying.
“And, I am not criticising the promoters, but I do think that it is symptomatic of the way in which the Government of the day has failed to ensure equity in the application and enforcement of these laws because the youths on the corner, [and] youths on the streets are being held, arrested and charged for breaching the Disaster Risk Management Act orders and in their own land, the land of their birth and then foreigners can come here and do the exact same thing without any problems whatsoever,” the Opposition Leader concluded.