(CMC)— The government of St Lucia has approved Carnival celebrations for next year but maintained that it would be held subject to the full approval of the Ministry of Health and in keeping with established health protocols.
The government said that “the Vaxxed Mas” was agreed upon following several consultations between stakeholders, the Department of Creative Industries and Culture, and the Department of Health.
“The name suggests everyone participating in Carnival 2022, including revellers, patrons, support staff and service providers must be fully vaccinated. The aim is to create a bubble to ensure the safety of the general public and all carnival patrons,” read an official statement.
Carnival, held annually in July, is one of the country’s biggest cultural displays and has had a significant cultural and economic impact.
“St Lucia Carnival has grown to become one of the biggest carnivals in the region and by all indications was set to continue on an upward trend until the onset of coronavirus (COVID-19)“.
Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries and Information Minister, Dr Ernest Hilaire, is quoted in the statement as saying that “as a carnival enthusiast who has been a part of carnival for the past 15 plus years, it is critical that we continue to build on the hard work that was started by persons who have brought carnival to where it is now.
“We must also ensure that we preserve the public health of Saint Lucia while creating economic activity for our people to benefit from. Carnival is also a major part of our tourism product which sees thousands of visitors coming to our shores to enjoy our island and its wonderful experiences.
“Those in the Creative Industries use the Carnival season as one of their avenues to showcase their talents so we must continue to provide that platform to do so. It is even more important now after the almost two-year hiatus,” he said.
The statement said that Carnival 2022 will not take place in its traditional form, but that all the necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the true spirit of St Lucia’s Carnival is preserved.
“Strict guidelines and protocols will be implemented and the authorities will ensure strict adherence in an effort to safeguard the health and wellness of all participants. The guidelines will be announced in due course following further working consultations between the Ministry of Health and stakeholders,” the statement said, urging St Lucians to get vaccinated.
But the leader of a minority opposition party said the Carnival is ill-advised.
“I do not know if they believe that by next year the pandemic will be gone,” the leader of the National Green Party (NGP) Andre de Caires told St Lucia Times newspaper.
“I don’t know if they thought about this really hard, but I think it is early days yet and we have to see how this thing plays out and they may have to retract this idea. At this point in time I would say it is ill-advised,” the NGP leader stated.
St Lucia has recorded 283 deaths and 13, 105 infections linked to the COVID-19 pandemic since March last year.