Some Caribbean events still on as coronavirus spreads in region
As major events around the world continue to be cancelled or postponed in a bid to curb the coronavirus outbreak, all eyes in the Caribbean are on regional events carded to take place over the next two months.
As the high tourist season winds down, many islands are gearing up to host major events that will continue to attract visitors to their shores.
However, with the number of cases of coronavirus increasing in the region, Jamaica confirming its first two cases this week and reports of out Canada that a traveller from Trinidad and Tobago tested positive, there is a degree of uncertainty whether many of these events will come off.
So far, Jamaica’s Carnival, slated for April 19 is still on despite one promoter, Frenchmen, cancelling all Carnival-related events.
UWI's Mona campus in Jamaica also cancelled its Carnival which was due to run from March 12 to 15.
BRT weekend, which included events in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos has also been postponed.
In a release, the organisers of the event billed as the Caribbean’s biggest music festival, said due to the new cases in Jamaica and the spread of the disease around the world they have postponed it to Emancipation weekend in Jamaica, July 31 to August 2 and September 4 to 6 in TCI.
The Calabash Literary Festival, which takes place every two years in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, is still on according to Anneke Brown, Sales and Marketing manager of the event. The event is carded to take place from May 29 to 31.
In Grenada, the biggest event on the calendar for next month, the Grenada Invitational, which sees athletes from all over the world taking part, has been postponed from April 4. The organisers issued a press release citing the uncertainty and fluidity of the coronavirus as a reason.
“As previously mentioned, the improbability and inflexibility of the situation changes from day to day and these uncertainties are sure to hinder in the delivery of a World Class event,” the organisers said
They said they will monitor global conditions and announce a new date at a later time.
In Antigua and Barbuda, the island’s biggest event, Sailing Week, is still on for April 29 to May 1.
Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez told Loop that they are monitoring the progress of the virus and will make a decision on the event within the next week.
So far there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Antigua and Barbuda but the country is preparing.
Fernandez said with a number of yachts coming in there is a sterile area for yachties and they will be required to fill out a form indicating countries they visited over a three week period.
He noted, however, that many yachties who are coming from countries hard hit with the virus have already cancelled as well as those who fit into the older demographic which are feeling the brunt of the disease.
He said they are also working with hotels so that if someone comes down with the symptoms they can be quarantined in a specific part of the hotel until their samples are tested in T&T. If any visitor has a severe case of the virus they will be transferred to a specific quarantine facility.
Fernandez said thankfully the virus is spreading as the high tourist season is winding down as there are only six weeks to go before the end of the traditional high season.
“If it was happening in November that would be the death knell for all of us,” he said.
In other parts of the region, Barbados has no plans to cancel or postpone events at this time, Loop was told.
The major events on the island next month are the Vujaday Music Festival slated for April 1 to 5 and the Barbados Reggae Festival carded for April 24 to 28.
Vujaday is an EDM music festival that has Diplo, DJ Puffy and Louie Vega among its cast. The line-up for the Reggae Festival includes Jimmy Cliff and Sizzla Kalonji.
Despite at least two confirmed cases of coronavirus in French St Martin, Carnival in the Dutch side is 100 percent on said Alston Lourens, President of the St Maarten Carnival Development Foundation.
Lourens told Loop there are no plans to cancel the event unless the Government says otherwise. He said, however, that they do expect fewer people to fly in this year.
He said the island is prepared and the Carnival village has always promoted hygiene with sanitisers available throughout.
St Maarten’s Carnival runs from April 16 and culminates on May 3.