VIDEO: Gov't shutters 17 beaches and 19 rivers for COVID-19 breaches
Screenshot of a viral video showing a man and a woman rope-swinging at the popular Spanish Bridge River.
Seventeen beaches and 19 rivers across the island will be closed for two weeks effective Friday, August 14, the Minister of Local Government, Desmond McKenzie has announced.
The closures come as COVID-19 cases have surged over the past two weeks with the number of confirmed cases of the respiratory virus now standing at 1,031 as of Monday.
They include the popular Hellshire beach and Caymanas River in St Catherine and the Ocho Rios, Turtle Tower and Flavours beaches in St Ann. The popular Winnifred and Boston beaches in Portland will also be closed to the public as of Friday.
McKenzie made the announcement Tuesday in a ministerial statement in the House of Representatives.
The pending closures follow repeated warnings from the government to the operators of these facilities after numerous and ongoing breaches of COVID-19 protocols were observed.
McKenzie singled out the Spanish Bridge River on the St Mary/St Ann border, stating that “Some of what takes place at the Spanish Bridge River cannot be allowed to continue”.
See below the full list of beach closures:
Kingston and St Andrew – Bob Marley
St Catherine – Hellshire
Clarendon – Farquharson
Manchester –Alligator Pond
St Elizabeth – Great Bay
Westmoreland – Blue Fields and Norman Manley
Trelawny – Burwood, Jacob Taylor, Half Moon Bay and Victoria Charlot
St Ann – Turtle Tower, Ocho Rios, Fantasy, Cardif Hall and Flavour
Portland – Winnifred, Frenchman’s Cove and Boston
Full list of rivers slated to be closed:
Kingston and St Andrew – Cane River, Penfield, Grove, Hope
St Catherine – Caymanas, Natural Paradise
Clarendon – Salt River, Cockpit
Manchester – Alligator Pond, Noisy River, Gutters, Oxford
Westmoreland – Sweet River
St Ann – Little Dunn’s River
St Mary – Spanish River and Blue Hole
St Thomas – Yallahs, Reggae Falls, Roaring River
In the meantime, as it relates to small outdoor events, such as parties and round robins, the number of patrons allowed has been reduced from 280 to 230. Of that number, no more than 200 must be patrons and the remainder staff and entertainers.
Also, such events will only be allowed to take place Thursdays to Sundays as of August 24.
Promoters of events must apply for a permit 15 days ahead of the event, up from the previous 10 days.
Additionally, McKenzie said promoters are willing to self regulate in order to keep their events going. To this end he said promoters he met with have indicated that anyone found in breach should be banned from hosting an event for six months. The government will take the suggestion on board McKenzie said.