Just as Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire was reminding Saint Lucians that the proposed ‘Vax Mas’ Carnival 2022 for vaccinated revelers was still on the table, news out of Trinidad & Tobago — the home of Caribbean Carnival — is that businesses and other stakeholders in Tobago thought a ‘Vax Mas’ was a bad idea, which would unlikely guarantee the safety of revelers.
Press reports were quoting Dr. Ernest Hilaire, also the minister responsible for creative industries, saying, “The discussions will continue, and all stakeholders will now be further engaged to finalize preparations” and “critical will be the engagement of the public health authorities to establish the parameters for its execution…”
Meanwhile, according to a Loop News reported on January 21, “the Tobago Business Chamber is urging the Government to focus its energies on other pressing matters, instead of pushing ahead with its proposed Taste of Carnival.
Like Saint Lucia, the Carnival events planned for Tobago, the agency reported, would be “only for vaccinated persons” and in “safe zones”, with plans to ensure only “the smallest potential COVID-19 risk…”
The idea of a ‘Vax Mas’ did not find favour with the Tobago business community. Chairman of the Tobago Business Chamber, Martin George, was reported as having “questioned why Government would move ahead with these plans when T&T was experiencing record COVID-19 daily totals.”
On the eve of George’s expression of concern, more than 1,000 new virus cases were reported in Trinidad & Tobago, the highest number since the first case was detected in March 2020. According to him, “Stakeholders, including promoters and performers,” had “also expressed concerns with how practical ‘safe zone’ arrangements would be.”
The Chamber President suggested that the Trinidad & Tobago Government should instead “prioritize the education and public health sectors and putting the economy back onto the path to recovery.”
A befuddled Tobago Chamber President also citing the concerns of promoters and other stakeholders had this to say: “In those circumstances, one wonders really, what is the intention, purpose or motive behind the Government still persisting with that idea, when it appears we have more important considerations at stake right now, particularly given the rising COVID numbers…”
Meanwhile in Saint Lucia while veteran Carnival revelers have welcomed the possibility of being able to ‘finally jump-and-wine” and “Play Mas” for “Carnival 2K22’, many citizens have been questioning the planning of “a mass crowd event” without the “guarantee” that all related rules and protocols will be observed.
With the presence of the highly infectious Omicron virus, not known at the time the “Vax Mas” was being initially promoted, and the vaccinated getting infected, one wonders if it is not time now to give up the idea of a “Vax Mas”.
But as with everything else about Saint Lucia Carnival 2022, uncertainty reigns – until the health authorities make the final call, “Vax Mas” or no “Vax Mas”.