by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The entertainment industry has been allowed to restart activity with the most recent statutory rules and orders allowing mass events.
The organisers have to go through the hurdle of getting it approved by the Fire and Rescue Services, the Police and the Health Ministry.
However, it was no shock that the allowances are all for the vaccinated. Any easing of that restriction was hampered when the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus was introduced to the world, even after achieving a significant goal of having 80 percent of the adult population of St. Kitts and Nevis Vaccinated.
What about the unvaccinated?
Time and time again, we have heard health officials urge people to do the ‘right’ thing, be responsible, be our brother’s keeper, and get vaccinated.
“We also need to get the rate of vaccination up in our 18 to 40-year-olds, as this is the group of adults with the lowest vaccination coverage and the highest rate of viral transmission. These are the ones who want to play contact sports, frequent bars and on the strips and also participate in carnival events. Unfortunately, it is the elderly with pre-existing conditions who are dying when the virus is unknowingly brought back home to them,” said Dr Cameron Wilkinson during the November 24 press briefing hosted by the National Emergency Operations Center.
Outside of mass events, at bars and restaurants, people can socially mix regardless of vaccination status once all COVID-19 protocols are in practice.
Health officials have explained that social mixing during mass events presents a greater risk of possible spread, leading to an overload of the healthcare system.
What about the possibility of holding different events for the vaccinated and the unvaccinated to minimise the risk?
“Such a proposition would not be feasible; it means having two shows or two sets of costs, for example. But at the end of the day, the status quo remains; we’ve made the decision, and we all have decisions to make in life, whether it be as a government or as individuals. And based on these decisions we make, we have to live with the consequences. The Carnival Committee, myself as minister responsible and the government has always been consistent, that we’d only have fully vaccinated persons,” said Minister of Culture the Hon Jonel Powell, the minister with responsibility for the national carnival in a sit-down interview with Jason Davis.
“I understand the disappointment by those who are not able to participate, but that is their choice not to participate. These are the rules, this is the criteria, it’s a competition, and this is what is required to enter. I’m hoping that they utilise the time to really reflect on their decisions, not just participate in the Calypso show, but to really think about what it means to be vaccinated in the world in which we live today, and when I vaccinated, I mean vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.”
Powell made those remarks regarding the claims that vaccinated and unvaccinated calypsonians would be able to compete in the Senior Calypso Competition even after it was communicated that carnival activities were for the vaccinated.
While the carnival committee would not be hosting separate events for the unvaccinated, even if a group of individuals would want to have their own Calypso Tent for the unvaccinated or J’ouvert for the unvaccinated under the current Statutory Rules And Orders (No. 43 of 2021) that would not be possible.
Once an event has more than 25 patrons, the organisers have to seek approval and “Where permission is granted to a person to host an entertainment event, all patrons shall be required to produce proof of full vaccination, by presenting their COVID-19 vaccination record or other valid proof of vaccination, authorised by the Ministry of Health, before entry into the event.