Moses (Superior Picky) playing mas
Moses (Superior Picky) playing mas

Even if it is just a "taste", carnival lovers may see a semblance of Mas Dominik in 2022, but only the fully vaxxed will enjoy the fete.

In 2021, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Tourism Minister Denise Charles announced the cancellation of carnival due to the serious threat to public safety mass gathering posed.

However, with three vaccines available to citizens for use in Dominica, there has been a clarion call by jab takers seeking reward in the form of carnival.

Well, the call has been answered and the fully vaccinated will be able to fete in a vaccination bubble.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit who announced his government's decision 0n his January 23 weekly programme, Annou Palé, said approval has been given for the hosting of special entertainment events during the period, February 20- March 1, 2022.

To participate, all patrons must be fully vaccinated and present a negative Antigen test result, received 24 hours prior to each event.

"The Government, after intense, internal discussions and consultations with industry stakeholders, has approved protocols for special entertainment events," Skerrit said. "In the first instance, we will look to pilot these protocols at a select number of special events, which will occur between the February 20-March 1 period."

Pioneering one of the biggest pandemic-era events, Skerrit emphasized that this new approach will be vastly different from that of the past.

According to the approved guidelines, events shall not exceed a duration of six hours and only one event shall be held per day.

"There shall be NO street jump-ups, no village carnivals, no unauthorized gatherings of groups and troops, and no activities without having first applied for and received a permit. Approved activities are intended to be managed events for vaccinated patrons within a safe zone, to ensure the health and safety of patrons and the wider public," Prime Minister Skerrit stressed.

These events will be held at two approved venues, the Windsor Park Sports Stadium (WPSS) Forecourt and the Old Mill Cultural Centre.

The WPSS will be designed as the main event venue, catering to a maximum of 500 patrons whilst Old Mill will be approved for virtual events and cater for up to 200 patrons. "All patrons, performers, staff support- including health and security personnel- and vendors at the events shall be fully vaccinated," he said.

On the days designated for carnival Monday and Tuesday, – February 28 and March 1–events are proposed for the forecourt of the WPSS and will cater for a maximum of 500 patrons and will run from 2:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m.

Skerrit said protocols will be made available in the upcoming days; however, organizers of the event will be required to submit an application seeking authorization to host the event.

Skerrit stands resolute that his government's management of the virus has been "unimpeachable" and its commitment and dedication are unquestionable.

However, he says steps must be taken to curb the hemorrhaging of Dominica's economy, especially the entertainment sector whose sources of revenue have been wiped out in over a year due to the pandemic.

He further revealed that protocols are being established for the recommencement of sports and the reopening of schools in a phased approach.

An employee of the Dominica Festival Committee (DFC) who spoke to The Sun defended the government's decision.

"We have to see things for what they are and what they have become. COVID-19 has no end in sight so we certainly need to adjust to our new reality," the source said. "This is definitely the first step in the right direction in restarting the events sector. Given the economic importance of carnival, it was necessary to consider what was possible and what events could be held safely and this was the final conclusion."

Despite the announcement, Dominican-born Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa Etienne a few months back advised the Prime Minister against the hosting of events that will result in mass gatherings despite participants' vaccination status.

She told Skerrit, should any decision be taken, his government must weigh the relaxing of public health measures with the country's health systems and services to determine if it is able to handle a spike in cases from the activities.