The Saint Lucia Carnival Bands Association notes with keen interest, the recent statement
regarding Carnival 2022, issued by the medical fraternity by way of widely circulated letter to the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Investment, Creative Industry, Culture and Information.
The Association shares similar concerns regarding the health and wellbeing of citizens, and
together with relevant government authorities, has carefully considered the implications of staging carnival 2022 without a mandatory vaccination regime in place.
The Association’s position is predicated on the following considerations:
1. Vaccination rates in Saint Lucia have been sluggish from inception, and as correctly
recognized by most medical professionals is unlikely to accelerate. Our observation is that
those persons predisposed to vaccination have already done so, while the remainder will
remain hesitant, irrespective. The economy can no longer be held hostage by such hesitancy.
2. Out of an abundance of caution, substantial measures are being put in place at venues, and events, and within participating bands to encourage patrons to take precautionary measures while attending the festival. This is by no means foolproof, but demonstrates a practical balance between responsibility and realism.
3. Approximately 65% of persons participating in approved events will be visitors to our island. Such persons typically stay for 7 days, and are required to show a negative Covid test and/or be fully vaccinated on entry. This further reduces risk to our domestic population.
4. As concerns the rest of the festival population, there are currently public events which routinely attract comparable crowds, the health implications of which we seem quite prepared to live with. Carnival should not bear the brunt of further incursions on personal liberty.
5. Public health policy most everywhere has transitioned away from draconian control toward coexistence with COVID. This transition is premised on the impact of potential spikes on national health systems. At this point, it would appear that even with rising cases, Saint Lucia’s hospitalization rates remain relatively low. The impact on the health system therefore remains manageable. Thus, science not sentiment prevails.
Our Association notes further:
6. The Arts, Entertainment and Events sector was the first to close and the last to open, and is therefore among the most adversely affected by this pandemic. We are therefore grateful for the collaboration of Government authorities in jointly devising an optimal festival strategy: one that balances risk and realism, albeit in less than perfect circumstances.
7. Finally, for many practitioners in our sector, the choice of lives versus livelihoods is not merely a conundrum. It remains a very real crisis of businesses closed, livelihoods lost, debts unpaid and income foregone. We are not unique in this respect, but in the absence other festival activities, it is crucial that we now respond rationally to market demand and opportunity. Our Association continues to do this.
As always, we welcome professional advice at all levels, and would be pleased to receive any further suggestions for health risk management, which can reasonably be applied, to Saint Lucian Carnival 2022.
Source: Saint Lucia Carnival Bands Association. Headline photo: Internet stock image