People enjoy Doctor's Cave Beach, a famous, white, sandy beach in Montego Bay Jamaica on a sunny day. (iStock photo)

The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) is calling on the government to give a clear indication of the reopening timeline for the borders and the resumption of both local and international tourism. In a statement on Friday, the JHTA said it has been three months since the almost complete shutdown of the tourism sector due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “There is no doubt in anyone's mind of the seriousness of this health-related crisis we along with the rest of the world is living through, but it is now clear that we have at a minimum 18-24 months before we can expect a viable vaccine to become available and likely much longer before it is sufficiently distributed worldwide,” the association said. The JHTA reasoned that the country must, therefore “begin 'living with COVID' until the virus can be eliminated. “Doing so includes getting our people and country safely back to work, so that we can stave off the rapid emergence of worsening social and economic conditions for our people,” the JHTA, led by president Omar Robinson said. President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Omar Robinson The association also noted that several countries in the Caribbean have already outlined reopening dates. Even after Jamaica announces its borders reopened, the JHTA said the sector will have “a massive amount of work to do to rebuild travel trade agreements and relationships.” “So the time is now to allow us to get out there and do the job our sector is designed to do for the country,” the association reiterated. The JHTA reckoned that should closure of the borders extend any longer, many more Jamaicans will be out of work. [related node_id='4736a1e9-7137-4807-b281-6c9effec8772'] Tourism plays a major role in the Jamaican economy and the shutdown of our businesses has had a devastating effect on almost 300,000 direct and indirect tourism workers across the length and breadth of Jamaica who at this time are suffering financially, the JHTA said. Additionally, since businesses are now closed, the thousands of suppliers including farmers, entertainers, distributors, craft traders, taxi drivers, banks, artisans, tradesmen and many more have seen precipitous and devastating declines in their businesses, resulting in massive job losses and business closures in those sectors as well. “In addition to all the above, there is also a real possibility that if this drags on much longer quite a few of our sector businesses may fail to reopen at all putting many Jamaicans out of work,” the statement said. The JHTA further said it is “fully cognizant of the fact that not all our businesses have the same resources and capacity.” As such, it accepts that sector-wide readiness will be staggered over weeks to months. [related node_id='ddd15ad4-79dc-4d02-b7d5-89fedde3d963'] The JHTA said it therefore expects progressive announcements of opening dates from different businesses. “Important though is that we must make a decisive restart of the sector and that begins with a definitive start date for the opening of the borders and the approval for the resumption of commercial flights into the country,” the statement added. The JHTA said it has been working in close partnership with the government for the development of strengthened sanitization and personal health protocols to govern the operations of the businesses in the Jamaican tourism sector. “Our accommodations, attractions, transportation, craft traders and others will be required to implement what will be protocols benchmarked against some of the best such standards around the world,” the association said. Already, many tourism businesses have started to implement these protocols, source the requisite PPE’s for team members and are in progress to start the training of their team members towards reopening, according to the JHTA.

Chief Operating Officer of the CB Group, Matthew Lyn.

In a bid to galvanize the revival of the local restaurant industry CB Group has launched “Recover Together”, a $30 million initiative that will offer recovery support to over 2,300 restaurants and cookshops across the nation. As the economy rebounds, "Recover Together" will assist restaurants to reopen their doors and re-employ thousands of direct and indirect employees who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus (COVIA-19). The package will include flexible credit terms and product discounts of 10 per cent to 20 per cent to ease the financial burden of the last three months, as well as marketing support to re-engage the dining public. The food services industry has been one of the hardest hit by the economic fallout over these past few months with over 700 cook shops, restaurants, fast food outlets and food vendors having to close their doors and with those remaining open experiencing on average a 60 per cent decline in business. Chief Operating Officerof the CB Group, Matthew Lyn, said, “With an estimated 50,000 employed in this industry, we understand how vital our restaurants are to our economy and the crucial role they play in the sustainability of so many spin-off industries like farming, attractions and tourism. So when a quarter of our customers said they could not reopen without support and another 65 per cent said they could use a jumpstart we knew we had to step up.” The restaurant recovery package will become available to customers from June 1 and will last until July 31. CB Foods is the consumer foods division that markets and distributes fresh and value-added meats from its vertically integrated processing operations. Phase one will also drive business to some restaurants islandwide as the CB Group will contract them to show its appreciation to 25,000 frontline workers throughout Jamaica. In this initial phase will take the form of meals, gift baskets and restaurant gift certificates distributed to doctors, nurses, security, media, utilities and sanitation and transportation workers, who the company deems to have played essential roles during the lockdown. “This two-pronged initiative comes from a place of gratitude and always wanting to make a difference,” said Lyn. “On the one hand we have our restaurants that are struggling to pay rent and keep their employees, these are our customers who have been there for us over the years and now we have a chance to thank them for that loyalty. On the other hand, we have all our essential workers, our doctors, nurses, security forces, sanitation workers who have kept the wheels of this country churning while under lockdown and they too deserve our appreciation.” The “Recover Together” programme follows on the heels of the CB led campaign, “Say Yes To Fresh” which has created waves throughout Jamaica and was instrumental in sensitizing Jamaicans to the need to support local farmers. According to the Ministry of Commerce, Agriculture, Industry and Fisheries (MICAF), the campaign helped farmers sell over $700 million in farm produce over the last two months. “When we conceptualized Say Yes To Fresh with MICAF the objective was to make a difference for the farmers,” added Lyn. He further shared “Collaboration and partnerships are important, and Say Yes to Fresh is a testament to this, where the public and private sector came together for a national cause, which should outlive COVID, and become a way of life for us.” CB Group is primarily involved in sustainable agriculture with three main business lines – CB Foods, Newport Mills and Imagination Farms. CB Foods is the consumer foods division that markets and distributes fresh and value-added meats from its vertically integrated processing operations. Newport Mills deals with livestock, animal feeds and the animal health services division that supports the small, independent farming community. Imagination Farms is a fresh produce division that concentrates on import substitution and export of fresh produce by developing local supply chains and West India Sea Island Cotton.

Two dancehall artistes faced off, going to toe-to-toe and at times side by side during the first-ever in-person Verzuz clash, and when the two hours were up, the winner's circle was full. [related node_id='9b38bd5c-9274-461d-b2a8-dc1de593b37d'] Beenie Man and Bounty Killer did not disappoint their fans nor the organisers of Verzuz - Swizz Beatz and Timbaland. With both artistes in Jamaica at present, and despite the country being under an 8pm curfew, they came together literally and figuratively to give the best Verzuz show yet, and according to many comments on social media, they actually put on the best live session since quarantine fetes and stay-at-home concerts became a reality due to COVID-19. The novel coronavirus has brought much pain, sorrow and negatives but the Caribbean and World will never forget this Verzuz clash that only came to fruition under this lockdown and social distancing conditions. Barbados disc jockey DJ Jon Doe wrote on his Facebook page: "I swear this clash was the MOST vibes for the WHOLE quarantine - almost made it worthwhile to be home under lockdown!!!#Bounty4DaWin🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥" Deejay Puffy tweeted:THIS WAS THE GREATEST THING TO HAPPEN TO 2020 #VERZUZ DJ Sheldon Papp tweeted:This is LEGENDARY Producer Nelieux wrote:I NEEDED THAT !!! ... WE NEEDED THAT !!!! .... #verzuz#sting2020 .. thank you bounty n beenie !! But when it was time for the winner to be announced. In spite of many saying Bounty came for war, the real winners were neither Beenie nor Bounty. Verzuz tweeted: 'Big winner: WiFi'. Bounty and Swizz Beatz thanked Digicel.Butby the end of the IG Live, Verzuzupdated this tweet to say:BIGGEST WINNER: *insert Jamaica flags* BIGGEST WINNER: 🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲 — Verzuz (@verzuzonline) May 24, 2020 Aidonia tweeted:Jamaica and Dancehall won!!!!!! One of the Verzuz creators Swizz Beatz wrote on his Instagram page:489k Tonight was Big history on@verzuztv🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲@grunggaadzilla&@kingbeeniemanmashed up the world !!!! View this post on Instagram 489k Tonight was Big history on @verzuztv 🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲 @grunggaadzilla & @kingbeenieman mashed up the world !!!! Timbo how we follow this up 👀👀👀🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲 @verzuztv thanks @digiceljamaica @sharonburkesolidagency Richard 🙏🏽 A post shared by Swizz Beatz (@therealswizzz) on May 23, 2020 at 11:37pm PDT The Bounty verzuz Beenie was really fuh de culture and everyone in the Caribbean or with a link to the region was left hyped and proud when the chords of One Love by Bob Marley ended the clash on a unifying theme. This VERZUZ really was not simply a win for any one opponent.

Screen grab of IG Live showing Bounty Killer and Beenie Man performing in the latest installment of the Verzuz series of online battles.

At least 475,000 viewers worldwide logged in towatchperennial-rivals-turned-friends Beenie Man and Bounty Killer during the latest installment of the Verzuzseries of online battles featuring some of music’s biggest names amid the coronavirus pandemic. And boy, were they in for a show. The performance was so potent that before the clash was even over, Verzuz conceptualiser Swiss Beatz asked co-founder Timbaland: "Timbo, how we ah go follow up this one, king?". During the performance, the clash trended #1 on Twitter worldwide.There were moments of high drama and comedicmoments galore as the two dancehall icons took their fellow celebrities and fans down memory lane with a slew of songs that defined the 1990s for millions of people. Onemoment of drama came when cops walked into the venue about 8.20 pm apparently to enforce the nightly islandwide curfew, which begins at 8pm and is part of the Jamaican government'sefforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. Beenie Man announced to the viewers: "The police are here, we are on internationalTV, can we not do this right here? We have 500k people right now, do you wanna be that guy? Do you wanna be that guy?The police are here, but we not stopping;before COVID-19, there was people killing people, now is COVID killing people. Killer come back over ya, we nah go make dem stop this." One user commented: "Bounty Killer had warrants, he took off when the cops came." The viewers included a galaxy of international stars like Rihanna, Diddy, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Keri Hilson, Stefflon Don, Jermaine Dupri, Teddy Riley, Ja Rule, Missy Elliott, DJ Khaled, Busta Rhymes, Lil Jon, Damian Marley, EyrkahBadu, Gabrielle Union, Chris Gayle, Usain Bolt, Daniel Sturridge and Dwayne Wade. Bounty Killer injected a great note of levity when he acknowledged Rihanna's presence on the Instagram Live feed. "Just got to big up Ri Ri, Ri Ri, yu see me me?...and Beenie," hesaid to laughs from the few persons in the room. Indeed, the 'warlord' seemed to be in an exuberant mood as he did the 'World Dance' with Desha Ravers, Beenie Man's daughter, then later declared: "Though mi do Killer swing, mi no inna the dancing ting'." A king of witty one-liners, Bounty was in top form. He reeled off zingers like "onstage we war, in life we par' and "reverse the hearses, put those body in churches....Swizz Beatz, yu get a kriss wreath." The comments online were hilarious as well during the IG live. Rapper Ludacris commented: "Beenie trying to dance in them pants."Keri Hilson observed: 'they funny".Another user commented:" this makes me wanna eat some curried goat." Popcaan and Spice also chimed in with funny comments. Bounty Killer and Beenie Man seemed to share a witty repartee and chemistry that betrays the animosity that once defined their relationship. At one point during the clash, Beenie Man tried to perform two consecutive songs, and tried to interject: "Don't count da one de." Bounty Killer warned him, then hit back good-naturedly: " Beenie, you're a wicked negotiator". During the performance, the two artistes reeled off a barrage of hits. Some of the songs included Billboard charters like 'Proper Fix', and dancehall classics like 'Send the Modeller Dem Come', 'Benz and Bimmer', 'Cry for, Lie For', 'Nuff Gal', 'Rum and Red Bull', 'Romie', 'Wutless Bwoy', 'Hip Hopera', 'Girls Dem Sugar', 'It's a Party, 'Look into My Eyes' and 'Deadly Zone'. There was a two minute period when Bounty Killer and Beenie Man set a blistering pace as they segued out of the 'girl segment'. "Take them to Parliament and settle di argument, people dead!" Bounty Killer said, then deejayed 'Look into My Eyes' on the Bug rhythm. Beenie Man then did 'Dem No Like Me' , thenBounty Killer hit back with 'Eagle and Hawk', then Beenie Man hugged Bounty Killer and looked right into the camera and deejayed: "none ah dem bwoy de no rough like we". Another high point came as the clash came to aclimax when both deejayed over the dub which featured ‘Astronomia’ by Vicetone & Tony Igy, the instrumental used in a popular funeral meme with African pallbearers.When the clash got particularly heated, Charlamagne tha God commented: "I might have to come out of here, they might soon startlicking shots." It was a real night to remember, an unforgettable chapter in dancehall history written to lift spirits in the middle of a global pandemic. ----Claude Mills

Mike Henry

In response to developments within the local football fraternity nationally over recent days, the Premier League Clubs’ Association (PLCA) has issued a statement to bring what it says is clarity in relation to the developments. In a release heading into the weekend, PLCA Chairman, Mike Henry, addressed the matter. The statement is carried in full below: “It has come to the attention of the management of the Premier League Clubs’ Association (PLCA) that misinformation and rumours have been circulating about the current and future operations of the PLCA. We wish to set the record straight about a number of things. “Several years ago the PLCA took the decision that, acting in conjunction with all relevant stakeholders, it would implement measures to transform football in Jamaica, particularly the marquee Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) competition. These measures included the restructuring of the RSPL in such a way as to professionalise football in Jamaica and take the sport to the next level. “On the advice of the PLCA’s lawyers, it was thought that this would best be done by way of the establishment or incorporation of a new company to represent the interests of the clubs in the RSPL. After the unfortunate passing of the former PLCA Chairman, the Most Hon Edward Seaga, in May 2019, the Hon L Michael Henry was appointed his successor in June, 2019, and the plans to professionalise football in Jamaica were expedited. “As an important step to achieving its goals, last summer the PLCA brought to Jamaica the Englishman, Mr Richard Scudamore, a key person in the formation and running of the English Premier League (EPL), arguably the world’s most popular football league. “Mr. Scudamore shared his wealth of experience with the EPL, and provided valuable advice in meetings with representatives of the PLCA, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and other important stakeholders, including sponsors. “The meetings were very productive and as a result, the PLCA instructed its lawyers to prepare the necessary documents to form a new entity, to be called the ‘Jamaica Premier League’. These documents have been drafted and are being reviewed before everything is finalised. “For everyone’s benefit, the PLCA is committed to modernising football in Jamaica through the vehicle of this proposed new company, and will be working diligently with its members and all other stakeholders, including the international football federation (FIFA), the JFF and sponsors.”

Court Philippe-Chatrier at Roland Garros.

French Open director Guy Forget says he is working closely with tennis authorities to ensure the tournament at Roland Garros does not clash with the US Open. The Parisian major was initially scheduled to start on Sunday but the coronavirus pandemic resulted in it being postponed until September 20 – a week after the final of the US Open. Criticism of the decision was rife, and the calendar for the rest of the season remains up in the air with the ATP Tour and WTA Tour suspended until August at the earliest. Forget said he is working towards a suitable resolution and expects an announcement on the US Open's plans in June. "The official announcement has not been made yet. [The French Open] will probably be between the end of September and the beginning of October," Forget told French radio station Europe 1. "We've been working closely with the ATP, the WTA and the ITF to make a global announcement on what the circuit will be like until the end of the year. "There are so many question marks. New York City is more affected by the coronavirus than France. They also have a lot of organisational problems. "They will make an announcement mid-June to say how it's going to be like for the US Open." According to John Hopkins University, New York City has seen 197,266 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 28,926 dying as a result. France has had 182,018 cases and 28,218 deaths. Professional sports have been prohibited in France until September but Forget remains optimistic about the chances of staging a successful French Open. "The signals are going in the right direction with the reopening of businesses," he said. "We can imagine that this will also be the case for restaurants and bars in the coming weeks. "Now we don't know what's going to happen in a month or two. We will adapt to what the government tells us. "You have to be ambitious and optimistic. We hope that Roland Garros will take place, and in good conditions."