Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, has ordered the closure of 420 Hookah Lounge Jamaica at Manor Park Plaza in Kingston for breaches of Orders promulgated under the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Two employees from the establishment were arrested and charged by police on Sunday for breaches of the curfew order.
“The establishment has been ordered closed for 14 days for breaches. During this period, the operators will be required to obtain the necessary permits, including certification from the Jamaica Fire Brigade, to support their operations,” the Minister explained.
“There are other entities under our microscope and the same treatment will be meted out to them. We have further learnt that there are nightclubs operating under the guise of restaurants and lounges where the prescribed guidelines are being flouted. The names of these entities have been forwarded to the Jamaica Constabulary Force for further investigations.”
The public is being reminded that no approvals have been granted for the reopening of nightclubs. Community bars, taverns, sports bars, lounges, and restaurants can operate within the outlined Covid-19 protocols.
Minister McKenzie has also announced the creation of a new enforcement team to ensure that all entities for which the Ministry is responsible, adhere to the provisions of the DRMA Orders. The team has started work in the Kingston Metropolitan Area.
“The Government has issued a series of Orders since March, when COVID-19 was first detected in Jamaica. We have witnessed varying levels of compliance with these Orders by entities as well as by the general public, and the police have been working to enforce them, while our Agencies such as the Social Development Commission (SDC) have been instrumental in developing protocols and measuring compliance.”
The Ministry’s special enforcement team will comprise personnel from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, SDC and the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation.
“This new initiative will not replace the police. It is intended to complement the efforts of the Constabulary, which is already heavily involved in this new COVID-19 dimension of policing, as well as performing its normal duties,” the Local Government and Rural Development Minister said.
“The Government is determined to do everything possible to manage the pandemic in a way that ensures that the new normal has a space for everyone to thrive. This is exactly why we need full compliance with all protocols, so that public health and economic recovery can co-exist, to the benefit of our citizens.”