'Vaccination, way forward'Thursday, October 28, 2021
BY KEDIESHA PERRY
GARY Matalon, major shareholder in Kingston Live Entertainment (KLE) Group, says the full reopening of the entertainment sector is dependent on the island's vaccination rate.
His comments came after Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced a relaxation of several COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday.
“Based on what has been done to date, I'm not overly optimistic that we will reach full reopening for now. Until we are able to find a way to increase the rate of Jamaicans vaccinated, we likely have some more time ahead of us,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
KLE Group is the operator of popular eatery Usain Bolt's Tracks and Records, which also doubles as a live entertainment venue.
Speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the discontinuation of the no-movement days on Sundays, effective October 29. The islandwide curfew will run from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am daily and events will be allowed with 50 attendees who must show proof of vaccination. These measures will run until December 10.
“Entertainment has many different players with different business models. Some have been decimated completely by the COVID measures…Others have been severely broken. For example, a business that relies on evening traffic to generate revenue is either dead or fighting for survival. Every hour of curfew that is implemented, the earning potential is diminished exponentially. In many cases, this is the majority of some businesses' revenue-generating potential,” said Matalon.
Up to yesterday, a total of 899,000 Jamaicans had received at least their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. There have been 88,530 reported cases of the virus with 2,192 fatalities.
Matalon added that the relaxing of the measures, in his opinion, is what is required for the forward movement of the country.
“The way I see it, COVID needs to be managed by protecting people through vaccinations, mask-wearing, and social distancing as much as possible. At the same time, we need major improvements to our health-care infrastructure,” he said.
Meanwhile, principal of sound system Stone Love Movement Winston “Wee Pow” Powell says he welcomes the adjusted measures, and remains hopeful that the entertainment industry will reopen shortly.
“We've been going through this almost two years. It's neither here nor there for me at this point, but we still appreciate what is being done and [we're] looking forward to better days. We have to live with this virus and [I'm] hoping that people will realise that and take the necessary precautions,” he told the Observer.
Powell said the prolonged suspension has driven him to frustration.
“It's getting to me…Other places like US are open and we are almost apart of Uncle Sam's country so I don't understand why we are still locked up,” he added.