THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
COVID-19 TESTING OFFERED AT RESORTS AND AIRPORTS IN JAMAICA
Over 50 resorts in Jamaica are now offering onsite testing for COVID-19 along with sample collection as Jamaica works to increase its testing capacity for visitors to the island. Some hotels offer free testing. According to Edmund Bartlett, the hotels have received certification via the Ministry of Health and the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) to do the testing. Additionally, both Sangster International Airport and Norman Manley International Airport will begin providing rapid antigen tests for visitors coming from the United States. Local demand for COVID-19 testing has grown as requirements in the United Kingdom, US, and Canada specify that travelers must have negative COVID-19 tests before being allowed to enter their jurisdictions.
JAMAICAN PEACEKEEPING ORGANIZATION SAYS FUNDING ISSUES HINDER FIGHT AGAINST CRIME
The Peace Management Initiative (PMI) offered a grim assessment of the crime crisis in Jamaica, reporting that lack of funding is responsible for crippling the outreach of the organization. Underfunding is likely to make the crime crisis in St. James much worse, and there has already been a 350 percent increase in murders in the area in 2021. The PMI delivered its assessment to a parliamentary committee that is reviewing new legislative proposals relating to zones of special operations (ZOSOs). The PMI is one of three organizations invited to provide recommendations to the joint select committee. It reported that it is running a deficit of $15 million, and Baldwin Lindo, program coordinator, blamed the shortfall on the withdrawal of funding by the government through the Citizen Security and Justice Program (CSJP). The PMI still receives $1.2 million per month through from the government as it has since 2004, but this represents less than half of the social workers’ budget for that period.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
VETERAN CALYPSO SINGER DIES AT AGE 64
Sandra Des Vignes Millington, better known as “Singing Sandra,” has died. Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Tourism, Culture, and the Arts Randall Mitchell, called the veteran Calypso singer “a national icon.” He noted that Singing Sandra, a former two-time Calypso Monarch, entertained global and local audiences for decades and was also viewed as an educator who taught through her songs. He also hailed Millington as a feminist icon and said that she made major contributions T&T, making it a “richer nation.” Mitchell said the nation mourned the passing of Singing Sandra and are thankful for what she added to the country’s culture and reputation.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
JAMAICAN SAXOPHONIST FINDS NEW MARKET AMONG DIASPORA IN SOUTH FLORIDA
Conrad Pinnock, Jamaican saxophonist who was a student at the Edna Manley College of Arts in Kingston, has found a new market for his music among the Jamaican Diaspora community in South Florida because of COVID-19. Prior to COVID-19, Pinnock toured with reggae artists Beres Hammond and Romaine Virgo, and during his career has played with the Fab Five, Thelonious Monk, and Toots & The Maytals. The coronavirus pandemic severely limited entertainment events in the Caribbean, however, where authorities have hesitated to reopen the entertainment sector. This situation gave Pinnock the chance to explore the potential of virtual live music. While he said that he was not “really comfortable” with virtual events, having done just three or four to date, he believes he should adjust to the “new normal” arising from COVID-19 limitations. Pinnock and his wife Samantha moved to South Florida, which has the highest population of Caribbean nationals in the state, and discovered a new market for his musical talent. He is now working with the Visions Band and other local entities, hoping to become as well known in Florida as he is in Jamaica. He hopes that Jamaica’s government will reopen the entertainment sector on the island soon.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
STRICT RULES TO BE APPLIED TO CONCH SEASON
According to Floyd Green, Jamaican Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, very strict rules will be imposed on the 2021 Conch Season, which begins on April 1, 2021. The rules are designed to prevent illegal fishing. Green noted that after the ban on conch fishing that was imposed in 2018, significant improvements have been observed in the density of stock, with 180 conchs enumerated in a 2020 survey. This is an increase of about 16 percent. Green said that the reopening rules will allow a total catch of 250 and 300 metric tons for industrial and artisanal fishers. He cautioned individuals to follow all requirements stipulated by the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) because there will be stringent monitoring of their activities. No conch fishing will be allowed in areas east of the South Cay, and all conch fishing vessels must have real-time monitoring systems that can be tracked by the NFA and the Veterinary Services Division.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT REVIEWS PROPOSALS FOR RESTARTING ENTERTAINMENT SECTOR
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness stated that his administration will review several proposals designed to restore some of the entertainment sector’s functionality at a time when the sector is closed. He made his remarks before the House of Representatives on January 26, 2021, when he announced that restrictions on funerals and sporting events had been lifted via changes to the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA). According to Holness, while no date has been set for discussions with stakeholders, there will be meetings to review proposals on how the industry can return “to some kind of functionality.” The Prime Minister acknowledged the concerns raised in a letter by Scott Dunn, managing director of Dream Entertainment. Since the government closed down the entertainment sector due to COVID-19, dancehall acts who rely on this sector for their income have become increasingly frustrated and lobbied the government to reopen the entertainment industry.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
WINNING JAMAICAN SPRINT HURDLER ACHIEVES PERSONAL BEST TIME AT AGGIE INTERNATIONAL
Jamaica’s Ackera Nugent turned in a personal best performance at the Aggie International sprint hurdler event at Texas A&M University. She began her collegiate track and field career with the second straight victory, running the women’s 60-meter hurdles in 8.08 seconds. Nugent, who attended Excelsior High School, won the event just a week before at Texas Tech. With the win, she became only the second-best performer for Baylor University, tying for the ninth-best time in history. Nugent is the World Under-18 record holder and is ranked third on the all-time Jamaican Under-20 list. She also medalled in the 100-meter hurdles at the Pan American Under-20 in Costa Rica in 2019 and is tied for the 15th-best Under-20 all-time performance.