Sigh of relief as western Jamaica beaches reopen

June 08, 2020
Patrons enjoying the sun and water at Orchard Beach in Hopewell, Hanover yesterday, the first day of the provisional reopening of beaches.
Patrons enjoying the sun and water at Orchard Beach in Hopewell, Hanover yesterday, the first day of the provisional reopening of beaches.

Hundreds of Jamaicans flocked their favourite beach spots across western Jamaica yesterday, the first day of the provisional two-week reopening of the popular water spots.

Some persons woke as early as 6 a.m. to get a swim. Some popular family beach spots such as Sunset Beach, Dead End Beach and One Man Beach in Montego Bay, St James, were filled, while over in Hopewell, Hanover, the Orchard Beach was no different.

Other popular swim areas such as the Lucea Beach, also in Hanover, and several beaches along the Norman Manley Boulevard stretch in Negril, Westmoreland, were buzzing with excitement, as children and adults could be seen enjoying themselves.

JUTA executive member and beach veteran, Everton Samuels, who resides in Hopewell, told THE STAR that the Government's decision to reopen the beaches is more than overdue, and more than welcomed.

Past 10 years

"I have been visiting the Orchard Beach every single morning over the past 10 years, and although we are aware that the decision to close the beach was due to COVID-19, it affected myself and several other residents in the parish who use the property for exercise and swimming purposes," Samuels said. "When I arrived on the beach this (yesterday) morning, I was shocked to see the large crowd ... persons are now taking advantage of the opportunity to get a swim, which is long overdue."

Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie had announced last Friday that all public beaches and rivers would be reopened on June 7, effective for 14 days, under strict guidelines.

But despite warnings that no more than 10 persons must gather in any one area of the beach at any given time, patrons yesterday were seemingly far too overjoyed to maintain the social-distancing protocol.

The beach vendors were not left out of the action, and they also voiced their joy at being able to see the beaches packed with patrons, so they could once again earn an income.

Danny, a vendor who operates in the vicinity of the Sunset Bathing Beach along Jimmy Cliff Boulevard in Montego Bay, said the reopening of the beaches is overdue.

"Well, a waa tell yuh seh wen the Government lock dung the beach dem, it affect all a we as vendor, but the beauty about it is that school lock dung at the same time, so the pressure wid the kids dem di kinda come off a wi head, and yuh know as Jamaicans wi just try fi mek ends meet," he said.

McKenzie noted that the authorities will be monitoring the beaches to ensure that the protocols are being observed, and also that no parties or sporting activities are held.

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