Fri | Aug 7, 2020

Mayor Delroy Williams calls for patience from promoters

Published:Monday | July 6, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams.
Alison Sutherland (right) and Dahlia Martin had to take a quick selfie at a party earlier this year.
Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams.
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Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams is urging promoters to wait until the green light is given by the Government before “pressing play on the party button”. This comes after news that an event held at Devon House on Friday violated curfew orders and caused the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development to step in.

Videos of the event, which attracted a sizeable crowd, began circulating on the weekend. News of the footage eventually got to Minister Desmond McKenzie, who has since asked for a formal explanation to be given by the event promoter and the venue operators as to why the event was allowed to be held. “The evidence of this breach is clear. It is a total violation of the rules, and the police have been duly advised. This is a breach of the ban on gatherings at places of amusement, as well as a breach of the nightly curfew hours. Even more disturbing is the fact that this event was promoted and has been attended by large numbers of people every Friday for a protracted period,” he said. “Quite frankly, this does not look good. I am surprised that the management of Devon House is permitting this event to happen, and I am insisting on a formal explanation within 48 hours.” Not only has he asked for an explanation, but the minister also revealed that sanctions could be on the horizon as “violators will be held accountable”.

BETTER DAYS

Mayor Williams, in his interview, said that it was sad that these events should unfold at a time when the Government was considering reopening the entertainment space. He encouraged event promoters to hold on a little longer as better days are on the horizon for them. “In terms of the reopening of the industry, we have been having some serious conversations with the various stakeholders — the Ministry of Culture and Entertainment, the municipality — and so we are making plans to facilitate. We just want promoters to hold on a little while longer. The prime minister has indicated that he will be making his decision soon, and so there is hope,” he said. “We know there is a kind of anxiety for promoters and other players in the industry to return to business as usual, but we are still under the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are still major concerns we have, as a Government, and so we must take careful steps into how we reopen the various sectors. We have to be responsible about this, and we all have a part to play in keeping each other safe,” he said.

STEP UP SURVEILLANCE

Although the mayor did not comment too much on the specific event under scrutiny, he said that the violations were an indication that the municipality would have to step up its surveillance of events, especially if the entertainment industry were to be given the green light to resume operations. “This is just an indication that we need to step up our surveillance. We recognised the need for that, as a municipality, but this just sends the point home for us. We will be actively monitoring the space now, especially within curfew hours. It will be difficult for us to know about every possible event being held in every nook and cranny, and so we want the residents to help us step up our vigilance, as they did with this event. It was reports submitted by the people that led to the discovery of this violation, and going forward, we will continue to need the help of the people,” Williams said.

The mayor stressed that although the discovery of the Devon House event was a disappointment, it should not affect any decisions the Government has to make regarding the reopening of the entertainment industry. “I don’t think this incident will have any serious implications on the timeline the Government has in mind, but we do appeal to promoters and persons who operate these events that we have not resumed issuing amusement licences, and you need that to host any type of event. We have to protect the residents of the municipality, and so even if we get to that stage where we start granting these licences again, if the rules are not being followed, we will have to revoke them. We understand the distress and the value of the industry to the country’s economic life, but at the same time, we have to strike a balance.”