PEOPLE can look forward to the sweet strains of pan vibrating through the air as pan sides can now begin practising again. This comes after the Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced a further easing of restrictions in the fifth stage of TT’s reopening on June 20.
A post on Pan Trinbago’s Facebook page on June 24 said after intervention by Pan Trinbago’s president Beverly Ramsey-Moore, steelbands can resume rehearsals following strict government protocols.
These are: a maximum grouping of 25 people; establishments must close by 10 pm, wear masks in public; maintain physical distancing; stay home if ill; wash hands with soap or alcohol-based sanitiser; cough into tissue or crook of elbow; avoid touching your face and clean and sanitise surfaces.
In a phone interview with Newsday last Wednesday, Ramsey-Moore said, “At the last press conference the Prime Minister had in Tobago, they would have indicated that several areas were opened up with a maximum of 25 (people).
“The bands were happy and ready to go. At least the stage side practice.”
However, after checks by Pan Trinbago’s education officer, the pan body was told this did not apply to them.
Ramsey-Moore then intervened and got clearance for the groups of 25.
She said the bands are now extremely happy that they can go back to the panyards.
She said large bands and bands with more than 25 players will have to make the necessary arrangements as to how they do so.
“It is not a Panorama practice. You may have a stage side of about 50 people. Bands now will have to be very innovative in how they spread out their practice sessions.”
While some bands are eager to get back to the routine, Republic Bank Exodus will not be doing so. Ainsworth Mohammed, the band’s manager, said its management prefers to err on the side of caution until things become better.
“I saw the news also but for the time being I would be reluctant and we spoke to the management committee of Exodus not to start it until we are more convinced ourselves.
“At the end of the day, we would not like to have anybody coming to the band and becoming ill because of rehearsals and so on,” he said to Newsday.
Asked how long the band intends to wait, Mohammed said that depends on how it
sees things are going. “We are going to be very much guided by the Ministry of Health.”
For south band Caribbean Airlines Skiffle Steel Orchestra, going back to rehearsals is “a welcome call.”
“Bands have been looking forward to this,” the band’s CEO and San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello said.
He said people stayed indoors because it was what they had to do but that the band was resuming its rehearsals, energised.
He added that managing with the maximum 25 players would not be difficult as stage sides usually have that number.
“It will require some adjustment with how we do things: the interaction, the closeness, the social aspect of it in the panyard will be affected. But as creative people I have no doubt we will be able to make the adjustment and I look forward to it,” Regrello said.
Reigning Panorama champion Desperadoes Steel Orchestra also feels the same. Its financial officer Kwesi Moore said the band is glad to be restarting rehearsals.
He said initially when the number allowed to gather was increased, the band thought the “go ahead” had been given.
However, after seeking clarification from CMO Roshan Parasram through the Ministry of Communications, bands were told they could not resume practice. Ramsey-Moore interceded on the bands’ behalf and they were allowed to resume.
“We are glad it can happen. And we are fairly comfortable in the sense that stage side rehearsals are already physically distant given the nature of the instrument
“We rehearse in open areas…so we are fairly comfortable with how things are progressing and we are glad to get back to rehearsals,” he added.
The band should resume rehearsals by next week.
BP Renegades’ management says its players can individually use their “enclosed, air-conditioned, soundproof” band room to rehearse and different sections of the band will begin rehearsing again shortly.
BP Renegades president Colin Greaves said, “Our board has discussed it and we have a band room. So our band throughout the year does not practise in the open-air panyard like some of the other bands. We have an enclosed, air-conditioned, soundproof band room.
“We are not doing full band practice as yet. What we are doing is individual personal practice followed by sections….just the band broken up into sections.”
Greaves said that is going to be done for the first couple of weeks, until people feel more comfortable.
He said this is the band’s 50th year with its sponsor BP and an entire calendar of events had been planned, but was cancelled. Instead the players got a much needed rest.
“We took it as an opportunity to give our players a rest. There is no rush on our end.”
Even as bands began rehearsing again, the topic of Carnival was in heavy public debate.
How does Pan Trinbago feel about Carnival 2021?
Ramsey-Moore said, “Carnival 2021 will definitely be a policy decision of the Government.
“Whatever decision is taken by the Government, we will fall in line.”