Players in the entertainment industry have once again found themselves on a collision course with the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
The players say that having observed the conduct of politicians who are busy holding campaign rallies ahead of the March 30 elections, they have resolved to resume live performances.
In January, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 announced new public health guidelines, including limiting public gathering to 50 to curb further spread of the pandemic.
On the list of those making a comeback is Black Missionaries Band, who have scheduled their show for March 26.
Black Missionaries manager Ras Ray Harawa posted on his Facebook page: “From next week, we are resuming live music concerts. Strictest Covid-19 guidelines will be adhered to.”
His post was followed by an announcement of a show dubbed Stress Free Concert which will be held on March 26 at Zinziri in Chileka, Blantyre. The poster of the show was accompanied by a caption: “Lets free ourselves from Covid-19-related stress.”
Proprietor and director of one of the popular entertainment joints in Blantyre, Club 24/7 McDonald Soko accused government of playing double standards in the enforcement of Covid-19 public restrictions.
He said the implementation of the Covid-19 public health guidelines seems to be favouring other sectors and groups while biting the entertainment industry.
Soko said: “Are politicians different from us? Are they the only ones enjoying the monopoly of the right to earn a living? What we are seeing is hypocrisy. They are living normally yet they are forgetting that they live on our taxes.
“They are cracking down on smaller gatherings in pubs while ignoring political rallies and marketplaces which are attracting much bigger crowds. In this instance, which situation is a high risk area?”
His views were echoed by manager for Lilongwe’s M1 Centre Point, Wyson Kapito, who said government should accept that Covid-19 is here and maybe for even a longer period.
He said:“It has been really tough for our businesses. We have hardly managed to make enough to sustain our business.
“We have failed to pay rentals and salaries to our employees for two months now. We need to devise a new approach in handling the disease.”
Arts commentator Wonderful Mkutche said he understands the position taken by the players in the industry considering the conduct of politicians.
However, he wondered whether it is feasible to conduct events such as musical shows while observing Covid-19 protocols.
Mkutche said: “In a musical show setup, we have people who are dancing and some drinking. In such a situation, I don’t think people can pay attention to issues of wearing a mask or observing the required distance between them. It is almost impossible.”
Ministry of Health public relations officer Joshua Malango insisted that the restrictions on public gatherings are still in force and they expect everyone to adhere to them.
“To ensure that restrictions are being followed, we work together with Malawi Police who are responsible for enforcement,” he said.