By Machela Osagboro
Partygoers and soca enthusiasts may very well be forced to store their costumes and soca rags in their closets, because this year’s carnival celebrations could be postponed until December.
“We had decided very early that we are going to make a decision about carnival at the end of April. We are still looking at how the trends are going, but clearly we are closer to the end of April [and] unless we see a major abatement to the situation globally, it is going to be a difficult prospect for us to have carnival this year,” Minister of National Festivals, Daryll Matthew said on Observer radio yesterday.
Covid-19 has already claimed two lives in Antigua and Barbuda, and the government has extended the current state of emergency by an additional week, ending April 16.
Strict measures are also in place regarding social interaction by members of the public, and many businesses have been closed.
In keeping with these mandates, the Festivals Commission has developed a multi-tiered plan to play its part in helping keep the country safe.
“In any event, we still remain hopeful and the Festivals Office has already started to put contingencies in place. So, if it doesn’t have to be July; maybe [carnival] happens in November, December. We are building several scenarios to see which one is the most likely, depending on when we get past this crisis,” Matthew shared.
The minister added that, on a positive note, the human spirit is very strong and when the country gets past the crisis, people will need a release and that is when festivals and celebrations will come into play.
Annual events like Antigua Sailing Week and a number of popular pre-carnival fetes have also been postponed, much to the disappointment of numerous patrons.
One hairdresser who operates in St John’s told Observer that most of her revenue is made during Antigua Sailing Week and the period leading up to the carnival celebrations.
“You know, many of my clients usually come to get their fete hairstyles, fix up their lashes and eyebrows. And now they say carnival gonna put off, all we future look bleak, jack.”
The cosmetologist lamented the fact that the two-week lockdown has resulted in a loss of income and with the postponement of carnival she is unsure as to how she will make ends meet.
“The only thing all we can look at is when this whole corona thing done, nuff people gonna come to do their braids, their sew-ins, their lock styles. Carnival time is my time to make a lot of money going back to Christmas. This corona really mashing up my business,” she said.
Meanwhile, another hairdresser commented, “It is fete season and with all these events put on hold or postponed, no one is coming to do their hair because we all following this social distancing rule. We make we bread by the day and this virus ah kill the bread.”
Antigua Carnival 2020 is currently due to kick off with the Opening Parade and Junior Party Monarch on July 23.