Carnival set to return at full steam – and gov’t lifts restrictions on beach use

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Carnival staples including the popular T-Shirt Mas are expected to make a return this year (Photo courtesy Bahamianista)
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By Carlena Knight

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It seems it’s full steam ahead for the ‘Caribbean’s greatest summer festival’ with a full calendar of events for Carnival expected to be announced in short order.

It is highly likely that many of the much-loved staple events will be making their return.

According to Friday’s Cabinet notes, this year’s Carnival will see three days of jamming on the streets, with a route that promises “excitement, revelry and creativity”.

Asked how Covid protocols might apply, Minister of Social Transformation Dean Jonas explained that “there will be a limit to how many persons can attend events”.

Jonas was standing in for Information Minister Melford Nicholas during Friday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

He did however confirm that Carnival “will return in its full flair” and will be held at ‘Carnival City’, the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG).

All remaining restrictions on beach use – including rules which banned picnics – have now been lifted (Photo courtesy ‘Antigua and Barbuda Tourism’ Facebook page)

Previously, the Minister of Creative Industries Michael Browne revealed that plans are afoot to pack the festival into seven days from its usual 13-day format.

He explained that the July 27 to August 2 event’s plans remain “tentative” in what he described as a “fluid agenda” for this year.

According to previous reports from the ministry, the proposed schedule includes the staging of T-Shirt Mas, Carnival Monday and Tuesday Mas, plus the Calypso and Soca Monarch and Panorama competitions under conditions that will allow for the safety and health of patrons.

Browne did however mention that T-Shirt Mas will more than likely have “an amended route that ensures that Covid-19 protocols are observed and people are able to celebrate within their bubbles”.

Consultations over this year’s festival began last month and are expected to continue with relevant parties.

As with Carnival, Cabinet also announced that Labour Day, which is to be celebrated on May 2, will feature the usual pomp and ceremony that have characterised the holiday since its inception. The traditional speeches, marches and gatherings with live entertainment at beaches return to the calendar this year.

A full schedule will shortly be announced, Cabinet notes said.

Meanwhile, with less than 10 active Covid cases in the country according to the latest dashboard and no hospitalisations – there was a further relaxation of rules affecting beach use.

Cabinet announced yesterday that all remaining restrictions have been lifted on beaches after two years of curbs, which most recently included a ban on picnicking and music, along with a requirement for people to stick to social ‘bubbles’.

The notes warned, however, that the country is expected to see fluctuations in the number of virus cases.

“And so Cabinet continues to emphasise the importance of personal responsibility in the fight against the disease.

“Consequently, with the return of weekend vaccinations at the various clinics, the Cabinet encourages all persons to get vaccinated against Covid-19, especially since Carnival and the feting season make a full return this year,” the notes added.

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