By Shermain Bique-Charles
Labour Day and Carnival celebrations are on the cards this year, after the pandemic put the brakes on the popular and high revenue earning festivities for the past two years, especially in the case of Carnival which has been dubbed the Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival.
Michael Browne, the minister responsible for Cultural Industries, has indicated that these two events are likely to be held in May and the end of July 2022, respectively.
However, there’s some disappointing news for revellers since three well-attended attractions may have to be removed from the Carnival lineup for this year.
Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s Office, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst said that the T-Shirt Mas, J’Ouvert and Last Lap will be excluded from the line-up, since they are deemed potential super-spreaders for Covid-19 infections.
“We know that the T-Shirt Mas is out because thousands and thousands of people participate in it annually, and it has grown and grown. It is a kind of super-spreader event, given the nature of Covid. We believe J’ouvert will be out for the same reason, and without a doubt, the Last Lap will also be excluded,” Hurst said yesterday.
The plan, according to Hurst, is for attendees to observe all protocols during the events that will be in the lineup.
“What we know is that those events where people can be seated – two seats apart from each other, or who can avoid intimate contact, so that there is no likelihood of spreading from one person to the other, [will be on the calendar of events],” he said.
Hurst said that while some residents may be disappointed, the safety of the “people” is fundamental.
“We want people to be safe, we want the youths to conduct themselves in such a way that they do not harm themselves.
The calendar of events will be issued before the end of this month, according to Hurst, and consultations are ongoing with carnival stakeholders.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that the number of fatalities and Covid infections are declining, a number of Caribbean governments have decided to play it safe this year and are either cancelling or severely scaling back their annual carnival celebrations.
Haiti’s beleaguered government is the latest to serve notice that this year will be no different from last year.
Down south in Trinidad, authorities there say they will host a limited number of events this year as an experiment in staging large public events in the midst of the pandemic.
Not held in the past two years, the administration of Prime Minister Keith Rowley has decided to stage a limited number of events for fully vaccinated people only.
In Guyana, authorities are yet to announce plans for this year even though celebrations including the street costume parade are normally held on February 23.
St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines have all indicated plans to stage their customary summer festivities this year as officials believe they have enough lead time ahead of the mid-year calendar to monitor infections and stage these events successfully.