No price tag on health: Jamaican promoters support government’s 14-day ban on events

Patrons at a recent staging of Daybreak breakfast party in Jamaica.

There is no amount of profit that can supersede the importance of patrons’ health, according to some party promoters.

Their unified sentiment comes mere hours after Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced a 14-day ban and revoking of permits for events, following the confirmation of coronavirus in Jamaica this week.

“We have to do what is best for patrons.”

— Toco Loco’s organiser, Sanjay Blake

Press releases announcing the postponement of events have been popping up on social media over the past two days. Among the postponed events is Toco Loco Cooler Fete, which was scheduled to have its third staging at Hope Gardens, St Andrew, on March 21.

“You don’t want to be selfish and keep the event and find out that as a result of keeping the event it helps to spread the virus even more,” Toco Loco’s organiser, Sanjay Blake, told BUZZ. “Everyone can take precautions about taking care of themselves, but it just takes a small mistake for something major to happen. Yes, we thought about the promotions, efforts and all the money spent, but when it comes to a person’s health, you can’t really put a price tag on that.”

Right thing to do

Patrons dancing up a storm at an event in December.

Blake said that a new date will be advised pending the government’s next step after the two weeks, and he said that tickets purchased remain valid.

“A lot of persons were looking forward to Toco Loco, and we have gotten messages with people sad over the postponement, but we have to do what is best for patrons,” he said.

“A lot of events are being affected, but we have to step out of our promoter shoes and look at it from a humanitarian standpoint to see this thing has grappled other countries, and we do not want that to happen in Jamaica.”

“We all have a part to play at this point.”

— Fabian O’Hara, promoter of ‘8ight, 7even, 6ix’

Agreeing to this is Fabian O’Hara, promoter of ‘8ight, 7even, 6ix’ which was scheduled for March 28 in New Kingston.

“At the end of the day, while it is a business, some things are just far more important than financial gains,” he told BUZZ. “We would have preferred not to (postpone) as we were at an advanced stage of our marketing and the buzz around the event was tremendous. Needless to say, we do believe that at this point it is the right thing to do, and we stand with the decision taken by the government. We all have a part to play at this point.”

Safety of patrons

O’Hara added that while a new date is yet to be finalised, the event’s main sponsor, Guinness, remains on board, and patrons should retain their tickets.

BRT Weekend has been postponed until July.

Organisers of the annual BRT Weekend have pushed the weekend party experience to July 31 to August 2. It was originally scheduled for this weekend, March 13 to 15, in Ocho Rios, St Ann.

BRT’s spokesperson, Denise Dixon, said while the decision was a tough one to make, it was for the best.

“The safety of our patrons is what is most important to us. We’re not worried about the whole financial investments that have gone into BRT Weekend,” she said. “With situations such as the coronavirus, things are happening almost on an hourly basis. Every minute a case pops up, there are changes in travel restrictions and the health ministry and government are making changes and restrictions daily as it relates to the virus…

“The day before yesterday (March 10) was when we realised this was not gonna get better for us… God forbid someone is infected with the virus as a result of them coming into Jamaica and spreading the virus more in Jamaica. We had to really think about our patrons at the end of the day and the effects it will have on those living in Jamaica and those who’d be visiting and going back home.”