By Carlena Knight
The possibility of Carnival being held this year depends on the successes made — both locally and internationally — in reducing Covid-19 infections, according to the Minister of Education, Sports and the Creative Industries.
During an Observer radio show yesterday, Daryll Matthew, who also holds the carnival portfolio, said that despite the onset of vaccination against the virus, a lot more has to be factored in before a definite pronouncement can be made by his office.
“That’s not a yes or no question, and I will tell you why,” Matthew stated.
“The ability for us to host Carnival will depend on the health situation here locally and internationally, and so if the Covid numbers are still very high, there is still a huge risk of transmission in July, then, clearly, we can’t have Carnival.
“If the Covid numbers locally, regionally and internationally are significantly reduced, perhaps because of mass inoculation, and it is determined that it is safe for persons to have mass gatherings again, then yes, we will have Carnival.
“At this point I can’t say it is because of the vaccine; it depends on what the health situation is at that point in time.”
Matthew is however hoping that locally, life can return to normalcy through individuals stepping forward to be vaccinated.
“I can tell you my personal opinion. I personally hope we are able to have a Carnival. I personally hope that persons take the decision, the voluntary decision, to get vaccinated and I hope that we reach the threshold of 70-80 percent of our population here in Antigua and Barbuda so life can start to get back to normal,” he explained.
“I see our two major source markets – the United States and United Kingdom – both rolling out the vaccine tremendously. The UK, I think, has already inoculated about 15 million persons and the numbers go up every day.
“So, I am very optimistic about that and I am hopeful as well that over the next 90 to 120 days those numbers will increase even more to a point where we start to see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Matthew added.
Last year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the eagerly anticipated summer festival was cancelled. CARIFESTA, which was also supposed to be hosted by Antigua and Barbuda last year, was postponed until 2022.