Residents accuse the gov’t of bribery re mandatory vaccination to attend fetes

A pre-Covid fete (Social media photo)
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By Latrishka Thomas

Residents of Antigua and Barbuda appear to be outraged over the fact that they will be required to be fully vaccinated to attend an event.

This comes just as Cabinet announced that fete promoters have agreed that they, their patrons, and their guest artistes will be fully vaccinated as a prerequisite to holding parties during the Carnival holiday period and beyond.

Residents are calling this move a bribe.

One man speaking on Observer’s sister station Hitz FM said: “You nuh see a bribe the man a bribe people just fuh take the stupid vaccine. So call ting wah dem call vaccine cause no vaccine can’t make so early. He try bribe people with $50 voucher, dat nuh work. He try tell people if dem nuh vaccine dem nah get them pension. He try all kinda ting and realize e nah work. Dem a try kungfu now with Carnival.”

Another described the plan as a “set up”.

“Aryou nuh realize the Prime Minister see that Antiguan people just love one ton a mix up…if aryou nuh tek one vaccine aryou nar guh have dis and have dat. Aryou nuh see how aryou set up right now?” he said in outrage.

Similar sentiments were shared by other radio listeners. One exclaimed: “Stop force people fuh tek injection wah dem nuh know bout. Dat nuh fair!”

The comments on social media were no different.

“Dem play they smart. They know some people are frustrated of being home bound…so they using this as an opportunity to get people vaccinated,” one woman remarked.

Residents are also expressing their disbelief that promoters made such a “deal with the devil” and as a result are indicating that they will not be attending these fetes.

“These fete promoters are desperate and gullible. I will stay home,” a woman asserted.

It was on Wednesday that five promoters of Carnival fetes and other kinds of large-group entertainment events were invited to Cabinet meeting with the Minister responsible for the Creative Industries, Daryll Matthew.

The organisers were accompanied by a Superintendent of Police, the Chief of the Festivals Office, and the ticket sales agent.

According to the Cabinet notes, “after intense discussions, it was agreed that a vaccine regime for all fans and events organizers, requiring the presentation of vaccine certificates and a government-issued identification, in order to enter.”

Speaking at the post-Cabinet press-briefing yesterday, Minister of Information Melford Nicholas informed the nation that the government is “satisfied now that the promoters are indeed aligned in their efforts and their approach and their observance of the protocols”.

He said that the plan is to hold the first event on July 16, 2021.

But, “this will be a first case and a test. It will not be extremely large numbers. The optimal number will be about 300 in the first instance to ensure that those protocols and requirements that have to be put in place can be met and observed and to make a determination as to how large these events could become as more and more persons become vaccinated,” he explained.

Nicholas also shared that popular mobile app, ‘Ticketing’ will be one of the main electronic devices used.

“They will require persons to register on their ticketing site ahead of the event and in those instances, Ticketing will then compile that list and then submit it to the Ministry of Health for vetting against the number of persons who would have achieved dual doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” he detailed.

Furthermore, he said that persons who have gotten vaccinated abroad are required to register locally “such that when the Ministry of Health checks their status can be verified.”

Photo IDs will also have to be shown at the gate “to ensure that you are who you say that you are so that there is no possibility that there could be any fake attendance”.

Another crucial caveat is that all patrons would have had to have been fully vaccinated two weeks prior to the event.

Attempts to get the Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s response to the claims of bribery have proven futile.

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