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We, the Free Winifred Benevolent Society, were surprised and disappointed that just a week after the announcement that the beaches were being reopened, the government made a resounding U-turn and closed everything indefinitely.

Apart from the fact that Winnifred Beach is one of the few remaining free public beaches in the Portland community, this decision creates a dangerous situation of social and economic instability.

In the hope of being able to start working again after almost 6 months of closure, several members of our community had invested in buying stock to reopen their small businesses, only to have them closed again only a few days after the Government's official announcement.

Several cases of local farmers having their animals stolen have been reported, and a growing nervousness due to the economic crisis is starting to spread in the community.

Winnifred beach is well known and has been used for generations by the immediate local community as well as by Jamaican citizens and international tourists who come there to spend a leisurely day at sea. Families, seniors, church's groups and tourists visit the beach regularly especially as a result of having free entry and also for the authentic, pleasant and colorful atmosphere around.

We think that this beach is a vital and healing gathering place for all Jamaicans and should be kept open.

Our Association, composed of beach's vendors, local citizens and other volunteers has already put in place everything necessary to observe the safety protocols relating to the ongoing health emergency and we believe it is everyone's right to be able to use this public asset for the good of the whole community.

We believe that the development of a healthy nation requires the availability of social spaces that are freely accessible to the populace.

We ask all free Jamaicans of good will, the Minister of Tourism, the Environmental Associations and all Winnifred Beach's lovers to join our battle and act firmly to support our call for reopening our beach.

December 17, 2020
Free Winnifred Beach Benevolent Society