- Promoters relieved that there will be no clampdown on entertainment
- BEPA designs safety regulations for revellers attending festivities
- Says it will need govt’s help to demand vaccination certificates to enter shows
The entertainment industry and its value chain breathed a sigh of relief last week when President Mokgweetsi Masisi said that the government would not be clamping down on it following emergence of a an especially virulent variant of COVID-19 in Botswana that was soon named Omicron.
Anxiety had been building up among key industry players and stakeholders that the Omicron was the spawn of the devil come to cast doom and bankruptcy over the Christmas season when the industry was beginning to bounce back from a long shutdown owing to the pandemic. The Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA) made a swift move to draft safety recommendations for revellers at year-end festivities.
“We met and agreed as promoters, venue owners and the Botswana Beverages Association to prioritise the safety of our customers,” the Secretary General of BEPA, David Abram, told Time Out in an interview. “We all agree that the chaos and recklessness that has been taking place at entertainment events should never be repeated. The reality is that COVID-19 is still a threat.”
Although venues are allowed to operate at full capacity, Abram recommends 80 percent to permit personal space and social distancing. BEPA has also recommended that event permits should not be issued to event organizers who are not members of the organization because BEPA has a code of conduct that holds members accountable.
Said Abram: “We have an advisory committee that can easily resolve a matter in case a promoter breaks the code of conduct while hosting an event. We presented these self-recommendations to the government because our industry is currently not regulated.”
In his address to the nation on the government’s response to the pandemic and the latest variant, President Masisi asked promoters to encourage revellers to present vaccination certificates and all hosts of mass gatherings to ensure full compliance with all COVID-19 health protocols. Elsewhere, governments are tightening COVID restrictions, requiring revellers to prove they are fully vaccinated and/or produce a negative PCR test for entry.
Regarding vaccination cards at events, Abram said BEPA could enforce it only with the help of the government. “We encourage everyone to vaccinate even though it is not mandatory,” he said. “For us to accept vaccinated people into shows, the government would have to make it a law.
“We have also played our part as promoters to try to offer revellers masks and sanitisers at shows but they do not make use of them. We will continue to implement all the necessary precautions to keep people safe nevertheless.”
In his address, the President said the government is not shutting down entertainment but is remains resolute in the fight against the pandemic with measures aimed at mitigating the effects of COVID-19 on people..
“We are expected to continue to wear masks, keep hand hygiene, social distancing and getting vaccinated,” he emphasised. “We encourage outdoor gatherings over indoor gatherings and observing prescribed social distancing of one to two metres.”