Promoters say gov’t’s surprise decision to cancel fetes is a ‘slap in the face’

News that the Christmas Day Champagne Party in Nelson’s Dockyard has also been cancelled came hours after the fete announcement (Photo courtesy Antigua Barbuda Marine Association)
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A “slap in the face”, a “rain on our parade” and “taking a dump on us” is how angry event organisers are describing the sudden move by the government to cancel all fetes “for the time being”.

Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph revealed on Monday night that no events would be held amid concerns over the Omicron variant which is wreaking havoc across the world.

Joseph said, however, the government will be reviewing the restrictions each week, and that small gatherings of 25 persons are still permitted.

This comes days after Cabinet said events for up to 300 people would be allowed, provided all patrons were fully vaccinated and tested prior to entry.

The surprise announcement caught some promoters off guard, including those who say they had already received the necessary approvals from the very same Health Ministry and were working with the police to finalise plans.

They are accusing government officials of being deceptive. In fact, one angry promoter used some colourful language to describe his thoughts.

“The government cannot be serious. They wait until now. This is a slap in the face. It’s like they purposely gave us the okay and just to rain on our parade. They are taking a dump on us and not just us, but all revellers,” he said, along with other comments that cannot be repeated.

One popular DJ who was planning an event for January 7 said while he heard rumours that all events could be cancelled, he had not been officially informed.

He said the announcement from the minister on state television was the only notification he had received.

The DJ said that he now has to refund tickets to a number of people who had pre-booked, and monies to others who were providing sponsorship.

A young mother, who spoke to Observer, is also facing a similar fate with an event she was planning for a teenage audience, for which most people were planning to pay at the gate.

She also explained that the decision came like a thief in the night, because up until a few days ago she was working along with the Ministry of Health and other authorities on the logistics and no one had mentioned any possibility of a cancellation.

She also said she found it quite odd that bars and restaurants are allowed to provide entertainment on a smaller scale, while promotors are being left out in the cold.

The woman said restrictions on gatherings should be done across the board.

Meanwhile, the organisers of a hallmark Christmas Day party have pulled the plug on the much-loved event amid fears of a Covid spike.

News that the eagerly anticipated Champagne Party in Nelson’s Dockyard has been cancelled came hours after the announcement that fetes had also been axed for this holiday season.

The annual party – once named by the New York Times as one of the finest of its kind in the world – is one of Antigua and Barbuda’s longest running festive events.

It ran for 30 years before being cancelled for the first time in its history last year.

But as the Omicron variant continues to send Covid cases spiralling worldwide, organisers felt it wasn’t worth the risk to the nation’s health.

Attempts to reach the Minister of Health for further information and clarification were unsuccessful.

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