And it came to pass that the minister for local government met with the tenants and management team for Devon House and pronounced that the area and 25 businesses operating there would reopen, but Reggae Mill will remain closed:
I know many who will breathe a sigh of relief that they can line up for an ice cream again, and also can open their businesses which had not yet reopened after weeks of lockdown yet were being penalized for the misdeeds of another tenant. So, all now seems right. Though, some wondered why and if the offender would be charged under the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA), or is the closure and denial of amusement licence for a month or so after enough drama?
The minister noted he was encouraged that violators are being reported by other citizens. Has Jamaican culture on informants changed?
What this episode demonstrates is the disturbing display of arrogance and disregard for the welfare of others displayed by one entity. This is not something that anyone has had to adjust to overnight, but after over 3 months of lockdown and health protocols and advisories about what is safe or reckless with regard to the pandemic, we see some ready to say “Well, we can’t bother with that!”
While we’re often ready to criticize the Jamaican individual for his/her selfishness, one doesn’t see it displayed so wantonly by any corporate entity, which often have many layers of interest and image to protect. What it does show, perhaps, is that economic pressures can push social conscience to the side.
Minister McKenzie, in talking about his reticence to reopen the entertainment sector said: “All we are asking persons to do is to comply with the stipulation. So, if you are allowed to open, operate within guidelines. The discussions have gone a far way and it would be disappointing that persons, for their own selfish means, would want to derail them in regard to the entertainment industry. I want to appeal to Jamaicans to let us consider our brothers and sisters. We can’t be selfish in this pursuit. While I understand that there are many livelihoods that are affected by their actions, it is not just the livelihood that is important; it is the lives that are important. Please understand and let us work together.”
At it’s worst, we should be worried that this attitude could prevail within the tourism sector, where we are being reassured health protocols are tightly applied. But, what if they aren’t?