(CMC) – Antigua and Barbuda has announced a “scaled-down” carnival lasting seven days this year, and added that the island will also allow unvaccinated nationals to return home under certain conditions.
A statement issued following the weekly Cabinet meeting said that Creative Industries Minister, Michael Browne, has assured that there will be no super-spreader events during the festival that is held annually from the end of July to the first Tuesday in August.
He said he anticipates that T-shirt mas and City Blocks filled with cultural exhibits of one sort or another will mark Carnival 2022, marking the second consecutive year that the island had not been able to put on its full array of activities due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has killed 135 people and infected 7,395 others since March 2020.
“The Cabinet agreed to assist Calypsonians, soca artistes and others who require the need of a studio, in order to advance their cultural art form. An arrangement is to be made with the owners of recording studios to reduce electricity cost, so long as they pass on to the artistes the savings in electricity that will be realised by them,” the statement said.
It said regarding the discussions on relaxing COVID-19 restrictions as they pertain to a number of nationals wanting to return home but are not vaccinated, the deputy chief medical officer and the chief health inspector were invited to address the ministers and “following intense discussions, with safety and security serving as underlying concerns, the Cabinet agreed to allow unvaccinated nationals to return to their homeland”.
But the statement continued stating that they would only be allowed to do so after taking either a PCR test or a Rapid Antigen test within four days of departure to Antigua and that on arrival the person will agree to spend seven to 10 days in quarantine with a tracking bracelet and will take another test prior to joining family members and friends.
The statement said Antigua and Barbuda is transitioning into a new norm while the fight against the Omicron variant of the virus is not over.
It said vaccination is still required and that while data show that the number of persons contracting COVID-19 has fallen to nine persons per week, the objective is to keep the number of persons contracting COVID extremely low.