The final decision of “Vaxxed Mas” rests with the Ministry of Health

The government’s announcement of its intention to host Carnival 2022 only for vaccinated revelers has drawn mixed reactions and responses – carnival-goers have understandably embraced the idea, but critics say it discriminates against non vaccinated; skeptics claim that with the Delta variant here and the Omicron variant on the way, the St. Lucia Carnival 2K22 can easily make history as the deadly COVID Super Spreader event of St. Lucia.

Called “Vaxxed Mas”, the proposed event should take place in an enclosed space (such as the Darren Sammy Grounds) to isolate vaccinated revelers. But there are also concerns that no national event could successfully unfold in a bubble, ruling out contact with unvaccinated people providing services outside the site.

The idea of ​​a Vaxxed Mas is very well received by revelers who have missed two carnivals (2020 and 2021) and have shown their thirst and hunger for the carnival by effectively ignoring COVID protocols for virtually “Play Mas” during of the last two weekends of the July 2021 general election campaign.

But cynics and critics say the idea is being pushed by like-minded carnival enthusiasts in government and with interests in Carnival, who are more keen to show they can run a “safe” carnival instead. than to cautiously refrain from organizing crowd activities.

And with the arrival of the Delta variant just four months ago and the inevitable arrival of the Omicron variant with a higher contagion rate, the arguments against Carnival 2022 are growing stronger and sounding like a bad idea.

However, in the meantime, a government press release indicates that “after several consultations between stakeholders and the government, the Ministry of Creative Industries and Culture and the Ministry of Health”, the Cabinet of Ministers has decided that the country will host the Carnival of Saint Lucia 2022 with the name ‘Le Mas Vaxxed’. The plan is for revelers, clients, support staff and service providers to be fully immunized and in a bubble, to ensure safety.

The press release noted that “the Carnival of Saint Lucia is one of the greatest cultural events in the country and has had a significant cultural and economic impact” and lamented that it “had become one of the largest carnivals in the region and, by all indications, it has been established to continue on an upward trend, until the onset of Covid-19. “

Dr Ernest Hilaire, Minister of Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information, declared that “as a carnival lover who has been part of the carnival for more than 15 years” , he said, “It is essential that we continue to build on the hard work that was started by the people who brought Carnival to where it is now.

The Minister said: “We must also ensure that we safeguard the public health of Saint Lucia while creating economic activity from which our people can benefit. He noted that “Carnival is also an important part of our tourism product which sees thousands of visitors coming to our shores to enjoy our island and its wonderful experiences.”

The minister also argued that “those in the creative industries use the carnival season as one of their ways to showcase their talents, so we must continue to provide this platform to do so. It’s even more important now after a hiatus of almost two years.
The government statement said: “Carnival 2022 will not take place in its traditional form, but all necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the true spirit of St. Lucia Carnival is preserved.” He promises that “strict guidelines and protocols will be implemented, and authorities will ensure strict compliance with the aim of protecting the health and well-being of all participants.”

The statement said the plan was “subject to full approval by the Ministry of Health, in accordance with established health protocols.” He also said: “The guidelines will be announced in due course, following further working consultations between the Ministry of Health and stakeholders. “However, he urges Saint-Lucians to” Let’s get vaccinated and enjoy the ‘Mas’! “

The plan’s clear intention appears to encourage unvaccinated people to get vaccinated, but government critics are also determined to treat it as discrimination against unvaccinated people – and a violation of the individual rights of people at Play Mas with abandonment. gay.
But there are also those who argue that if Trinidad and Tobago ditched carnival for the third year in a row, Saint Lucia should take advantage of the move in the interests of health and safety.

The press release says that while Cabinet ministers support the Tourism Ministry’s innovative idea, the final decision rests with the Health and Welfare Ministry, which is the final arbiter on whether the event takes place or not.

Some sources close to government have argued that the decision to host the new event may have preceded publicly available information about the Omicron variant – and as such, the increased risk of the Omicron variant being present may be the deciding factor. to cancel the event.

The Prime Minister has always insisted that he will follow the advice of scientists and medical professionals, so it will be up to the Ministry of Health and Welfare to advise the government appropriately if Carnival 2022 takes place. or not.

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Maria J. Book