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The Jamaica Tourist Board is sharply distancing itself from a major party series that was recently held in Negril, Westmoreland in clear breach of the Disaster Risk Management Act and the overall COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

The (JTB) is particularly distancing itself from the use of it material to promote the event(s). Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie announced that Rick’s Cafe has been ordered closed after the breaches.

Videos of the event, ‘Mocha Fest’, emerged online on Thursday, sparking outrage among many Jamaicans, and already the venue of the event, Rick’s Café, has been ordered to close its western Jamaica facilities with immediate effect.

The Tourism Product Development Company Ltd (TPDCo) has withdrawn Rick’s Café’s COVID-19 compliance certification with immediate effect.

TPDCo says Rick’s Café will be required to undergo a re-certification exercise to ensure strict adherence to the established COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols before it can be allowed to accept visitors again.

This morning, Rick’s Cafe admitted to breaching COVID-19 safety laws after videos emerged on Thursday of beachgoers frolicking at an event under the Mocha Fest party series.

Rick’s Cafe moved swiftly to address the mushrooming scandal

“We acknowledge the Mocha Fest party on Thursday afternoon at Rick’s Cafe became more crowded than expected under current protocols for entertainment venues. We deeply regret that it occurred, and sincerely apologise for allowing it to happen. Going forward, we will redouble compliance training to ensure this does not happen again,” it said in a statement.

TPDCo says it takes the reports of breaches of these protocols and the Disaster Risk Management Act very seriously and that the appropriate sanctions will take full effect.

In a statement on Friday, the JTB said it gave “no undertaking for sponsorship or endorsement of such activities since the start of the pandemic.”

The JTB also said it is “extremely disappointed to learn from videos in circulation on various social media platforms, that proper observance of COVID-19 protocols was not in full compliance during an event held at Rick’s Café.”

In seeking to explain how the agency’s logo was included in promotional materials for the event, the JTB said the platform hosts a calendar for all events staged in Jamaica that are endorsed by the JTB.

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