“Make this carnival a family affair,” said Premier and Minister of Culture Joseph Farrell on Friday morning. He announced that the three scheduled calypso shows, Eliminations, Finals and King of Kings must be done virtually to allow for the public to watch from home.
The premier said on ZJB Radio Montserrat that the scheduled slate of shows for carnival must be relegated to live stream only and discouraged public gatherings in the Carnival Village and communities.
The Montserrat Arts Council had previously announced what they dubbed as Community Carnival, which would have allowed for smaller events spread across the island for the annual celebrations.
“In the absence of the public shows, spend time together. We are simply trying to protect the health of the people of Montserrat,” the premier added.
He also asked residents to discourage family and friends in the Diaspora from coming home. The biggest “problem are returning Montserratians who think they have a right to not adhere to the rules. They are breaking the quarantine and putting the population at risk.”
Farrell advised that visitors should come with enough time to stay in quarantine then come and enjoy themselves if they do choose to travel home.
Calypso Eliminations are slated for December 12. The premier gave his assurance that the arts council will honour commitments to calypsonians as it related to prize money.
MAC Director Kenneth “Rabo” Silcott, who was not present at the announcement has told Discover Montserrat the Market Day at Little Bay will still be happening. He and his team are working to adjust their plans with the latest decision. The council is also working with a reduced event budget.
Minister of Health Charles Kirnon said he was in support of the decision to change the plans for carnival as public health was priority. One case of COVID-19 on Montserrat is too much, he added. The Glendon Hospital is short staffed and as they are watching the increase of cases on nearby islands, it was prudent that the island be prepared and reduce the opportunities for community spread.
Kirnon said local schools should also adjust their plans for Christmas concerts and consider live streaming it.
“This is not normal times,” he declared. “People are complacent as there are no cases. The protocols still apply.”
Dr. Braimah Kassim said the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is reporting a 3% increase in cases across the Caribbean and the risk remains very high. He said one case of the virus on island is tough but two cases will overwhelm the health staff, many of whom have not been able to take a vacation. The physician said the best way to safeguard the population was to have no new cases and combat the risk of others importing the virus.
Montserrat has been COVID-19 free since August. A series of health protocols have been put in place to discourage spread.
Officials said that they plan to step up enforcement of wearing masks in public spaces.
Listen to the announcement here courtesy of Montserrat Radio Echo.