By Adia Wynter
The prohibition of mass gatherings has eliminated Carnival Monday and Tuesday staples like J’ouvert and the Parade of Troupes and Groups but residents are assured August 3 and 4 will still be observed as public holidays.
Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, said, “The public holiday schedule is published at the beginning of the year. Although the coronavirus has interrupted carnival, it does not free the employer from having to pay someone an additional amount if he or she works on that day,” Hurst said.
Although playing mas’ is off the table, beaches will be open from 5am until 7pm, albeit with certain restrictions in place to ensure residents’ health and safety.
“Whenever it gets dark, they must leave. They are not allowed to take food or play music,” Hurst said.
He also stressed the need for people to avoid large social gatherings.
“The idea is you go to the beach for spiritual renewal, physical exercise and for moving – keeping your body healthy, but not for social gatherings.”
Minister of Information Melford Nicholas addressed the apparent open disregard in maintaining Covid-19 protocols during events, namely private parties, explaining that it is a major concern of the government.
“People have felt comfortable that we have been able to keep the spread of Covid under control… but the last thing that we want is for the public to be lulled into a false sense of security,” he said.
“We cannot afford the risk of that type of behaviour, so we have expressed the position of the government in very strong terms to the Attorney General for him to address with the law enforcement agencies.”
Meanwhile, for most members of the public who spoke to Observer, the cancellation of the annual summer festival did not take priority over protecting the nation.
However, one young lady was somewhat disappointed.
“I’m feeling sad because I’m a partying person. I’m just sad that all this happened and things didn’t pull through, but our safety comes first,” she said.