By Orville Williams
Fete promoters and patrons, along with the many other individuals and businesses that benefit from the staging of such events, will certainly be pleased with the additional relaxations announced yesterday.
According to this week’s post-Cabinet report, “More than eight groups have already received provisional permission to undertake fetes, beginning as early as next month and throughout Carnival”.
In addition, the fetes will be allowed a maximum capacity of 5,000 patrons. However, attendees will be required to show that they have been fully vaccinated or present a negative Covid test taken no more than 48 hours prior to the event, according to a release from the Ministry of Creative Industries.
These changes are certainly significant, as just a few months ago, the government announced that fetes would only be allowed a maximum of 300 patrons, who would be required to test for Covid-19 on the day of the event.
That announcement on capacity was met with displeasure from fete promoters, who argued that it would not be profitable to organise and execute an event for such a small number of people.
Cabinet spokesperson, Ambassador Lionel Hurst, revealed that the decision on the maximum number was reached yesterday, based on observations in a neighbouring territory.
“The largest request has been for 8,000 [patrons]…the Cabinet had actually proposed maybe 6,000, and there was some discussion around [the reason for] this number.
“I believe the Chief Medical Officer was persuaded that, in other jurisdictions – I believe it was Barbados – a 5,000 limit has worked well, and as a consequence, the 5,000 [limit] was adopted by the Cabinet,” he explained.
The Ministry of Creative Industries and Innovation welcomed the news that the fete aspect of the entertainment sector has recommenced, revealing that the first event, ‘Daybreak’, that took place last Sunday, was deemed a success.
In a statement, the ministry also revealed that “several promoters have indicated their desire to host events and fetes, and have submitted their respective application to do so over the coming months”.
Those promoters were reminded, however, that the number of patrons allowed at any venue will be in accordance with the size of the venue, to be determined by the Events Compliance Committee, and the authorisation of events will be done by the Cabinet.
Additionally, the ministry noted that it is preparing for the return of Antigua’s Carnival, with “several pre-Carnival activities”.
The head of the ministry, Michael Browne, brought a provisional plan to the Cabinet, to host the mass-crowd events usually associated with Carnival (ie, T-Shirt Mas, J’ouvert and Parade of Troupes), and the Cabinet “will determine next Wednesday whether or not the plan presented is to be utilised, modified or completely altered following further consultations”.