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Stay in your lane, suggests Information Minister re doctor’s concerns over hosting fetes

By Latrishka Thomas

[email protected]

“This is absolutely not Dr Simon’s Lane,” said Information Minister Melford Nicholas in response to concerns raised by the Chairman of the National Technical Working Group on Covid-19 about plans to restart fete season.

In a Facebook post on June 1, Dr Lester Simon asked how organisers would police the event, noting that “they can’t even police a yacht sailing from Antigua to Dominica”.

He referred to the plans as a “eulogy of nonsense” and a “dream on monkey mountain”.

And in an earlier interview, Dr Simon also noted that it is customary for people to sneak into events, which may ultimately cause additional health risks.

Nevertheless, Nicholas, speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, said that while the government has relied on Dr Simon’s expertise in other areas, the matter of the upcoming event is not in the medical practitioner’s lane.

“We would have relied on Dr Simon’s input and his technical expertise. We have further culled his support in relation to him chairing the committee dealing with the COVAX vaccine, and so Dr Simon brings a degree of expertise on board which the government has armed itself with and has relied upon his expertise in that particular area,” he noted.

However, he stated that the country is “facing two main challenges — maintaining the health of the nation and maintaining the livelihoods of the nation — and so this is absolutely not Dr Simon’s lane and so we note his comments but we have to give support and give an opportunity for other players to begin to play their role”.

Meanwhile, promoters are also assuring that they followed the correct channels as they aim to host the country’s first fete since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking on Observer AM yesterday, one of the organisers of the proposed July 16 event, Chalita Rose, said, “Dr Simon obviously is a professional in his field and while we respect that, there are certain channels that are open and there are certain processes involved in terms of giving this particular type of advice. And so, we would have sought to go through that process.

“We did not create these protocols and have these protocols approved by ourselves. We went through the government channel that the government has put in place through the CMO [Chief Medical Officer] and the Ministry of Health.

“If Dr Simon does feel this strongly about it and we need to be engaged, then the channel is, speak to the Minister of Health, go through the Central Board of Health, the CMO, and come back to us and let us be engaged,” Rose said.

The first fete is scheduled for around July 16 at an outdoor venue and will cater for a maximum of 300 persons — the requirements for all events held during phase one of the resumption of fetes.

Several of the nation’s promoters will be collaborating to execute the festivity.

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