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Outside: Adjusting to the “New Normal”

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In the words of the Grammy kid, “Where will we go. When the quarantine ting done and everybody touch road?” (Koffee:Lockdown). For months we’ve been anticipating “outside” and planning how we will get back to how it was before COVID-19. However, it is now clear to us that the Corona Virus is not going anywhere anytime soon. So, we have to adjust to the “new normal”. It pains my heart each time I hear that statement. I refuse to refer to the period we are living in as the new normal because there is absolutely nothing normal about all that’s happening around us. While technology is important and beneficial, there needs to be boundaries and limits. Some things definitely need to be done physically as physical interactions are important to the social, physical and mental wellbeing of human beings. Nevertheless, we have to understand that things are different now. It may not be like this forever but for now we have to adjust. After a few months of lockdown, Jamaica’s borders have reopened and starting July 21st so too will the much anticipated entertainment industry. Despite complaints from some, the government has made the right decision as we have to learn to adjust. The question now is, will patrons and promoters adjust to the protocols stipulated?

While the online parties put on by entities such as Big Par Online and Soca Therapy were fun and therapeutic for the most part. And Instagram lives like Quarantine Radio and Verzuz battles kept us entertained, there is something about a live event that cannot be reproduced via the internet. The satisfaction of attending weekly parties like Boasy Tuesdays or Weddy Weddy Wednesdays, as well as events such as Sandz or F.O.F. cannot be fully experienced by simply logging on to a social media platform. Buying tickets, planning your outfit and carpooling with friends to the event is as much a part of the experience as having a good selector and hearing hit songs being mixed. Torches blazing and the sounds of people “bussing blanks” at the the varying climaxes of the event cannot practically be replicated. The atmosphere of a live event is one that must be experienced physically, not virtually, in order to feel that energy that keeps patrons coming back for more. But will this energy be the same with the new COVID-19 protocols?

Discussions for the reopening of the entertainment sector involved key players: sound system operators, promoters, persons representing theatres, representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, and the local authorities. They reached the agreement of a phased opening of the entertainment sector, starting July 21st and continuing for two weeks. However, there are strict guidelines that must be followed in keeping with COVID-19 protocols. Honorable Desmond McKenzie outlined these guidelines while discussing the plan in parliament. Some of the protocols include mandatory wearing of masks, social distancing and sanitization; typical COVID-19 protocols. Also, all events must end at least 1 hour before the curfew time which is currently 11PM. How will this time frame work with the concept of ‘Jamaica Time’? Well, like I said before, we have to learn to adjust. That very bad habit that Jamaicans have of showing up to events several hours late obviously will not work with these new guidelines. In order to enjoy these events we have to practice being on time; forgetting about being fashionably late. Is that a price you’re willing to pay to enjoy these events we have been longing for? I believe it’s a small price and a good step in adjusting to the current global crisis. There should also be no more that 280 people at any single event. Of this number, only 250 patrons are allowed and 30 production personnel. Some promoters have complained about the small numbers. However, let’s just look at the glass half full and make the most of what we are given until things improve. What I am most concerned about is the wearing of masks and social distancing at these events, especially parties. Let’s be real, these masks are quite uncomfortable to wear for extended periods. So, is it possible to party in them and will it be worth it? Will the energy be the same while social distancing? I really hope so. But I guess we will just have to find out. I do, however, implore you to follow the guidelines given as they were made to protect us. Let’s not continue with the complete disregard of the protocols given as a lot of persons have been doing at beaches and rivers. It would be a shame to see the entertainment sector closed once more. So, let’s do what we have to in order to protect ourselves and others while still having fun. I am most definitely looking forward to those #outside posts as we party on and make the most of the “new normal”.



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