THE covid19 virus has claimed yet another victim – Carnival 2021.
The Prime Minister on Monday effectively dashed all hope that the Greatest show on Earth would go on in 2021, definitively stating at the Spotlight on the Economy forum that he sees “no future for Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago in the months ahead.”
We are still in the throes of a pandemic, he told the forum at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain. “It would be madness to be talking about Carnival. Today I can put everybody on notice, unless there’s some dramatic wind that will blow across us where by Christmas the pandemic would have been a thing of the past, Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago in 2021 is not on.”
He conjured images of a J’ouvert morning but with coronavirus still a major issue, not just in TT, but the world. “It’s just not on. Let us be thankful we are still alive to see each other’s face.
“Let us remember what our country passed through in 1918 (the peak years for the Spanish Flu pandemic, which killed approximately 50 million people), and let us understand what is happening in countries abroad that have not been able to control the spread. A Carnival, which is the perfect environment for spreading the virus is not something that we can countenance at this time.”
He noted there would have serious knock-on economic effects but “by the same token, we can’t hope to gain on that swing and die on the merry-go-round.”
Carnival is one of the biggest foreign exchange earners for the country, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars every year from tourist spend. In 2019, according to Tourism Trinidad, visitors to TT spent $27.4 million during Carnival and $23.8 million in 2018. It’s not the first time though, that Carnival has been cancelled, but it is the first in recent memory. The celebrations were put on hold during World War II (1942-1945). In 1972, it was postponed to May because of a polio epidemic. Up to the time of writing, there were 2,035 active covid19 cases in TT, 4,382 cases recorded in total and 72 deaths.
The writing on the wall was evident when even before Rowley’s confirmation of the cancellation, at least one Carnival masquerade band, K2K, asked its masqueraders for feedback on whether or not they would be interested in a virtual Carnival and if they’d like costumes shipped to them for a virtual event.
Within minutes of the PM’s announcement on the cancellation, social media lit up with responses that were generally in support of Rowley’s position.
Michelle Mohammed wrote: “Praise the Lord,” on her FB page while Teddy Beans said, “Common-sense at last!” L. Pollidore indicated, “I wasn’t going a place,” while another FB user wrote, “Who in their right mind going and wine and jam for Carnival and carry home the virus to their families during this pandemic?
“Thank God it’s off but I wouldn’t be surprised later down if they say it’s on. But knowing some Trinis they were going and party normal, normal and tell themselves they can’t contract the virus.”
Another social media user wrote: “Oh lard oye. So wat will the Carnival bugs do now? Some of them rather risk death than give up on that chance to wine their oversized, half-naked selves on the street.”
The Prime Minister also disabused the public of the notion that TT could depend on outside help to rescue it from the economic straits it is now in.
He noted that one of the country’s priorities in the coming months would be ensuring it meet its debt obligations.
“Debt is now looming as one of the major hurdles that countries like ours would have to face in the immediate and medium term…Nobody is going to come to our assistance. We are on our own. And we have to make our own bed, and lie on it as we make it…That’s the reality of the world,” he said at the forum.
This story was originally published with the title "PM: Carnival 2021 NOT ON!" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.
THE PRIME MINISTER has definitively stated that Carnival 2021 is effectively cancelled.
"I see no future for Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago in the months ahead...unless there's some dramatic change in the wind that will blow across us by Christmas, Carnival is not on," Dr Rowley declared as he spoke on Monday at the Spotlight on the Economy forum at the Hyatt Regency.
It would be madness, he said, in the throes of a global pandemic to be even be talking about staging a Carnival in a few short months' time.
"With the coronavirus still a major issue in the world around us, it is just not on," he declared. Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, which also celebrates carnival at the same time as TT, has already cancelled its festivities, but Venice Carnival was still on as of Monday.
This story is developing.