Promoters will have to wait until 2021 before they can stage any large-scale events.
That’s the word from head of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit Ronald Chapman, who said the key to the country returning to a sense of normalcy was the availability of a vaccine for the deadly respiratory virus.
During a meeting with the Entertainment Association of Barbados (EAB) at the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI) today, Chapman told the approximately dozen promoters, event producers and club owners that a decision had been taken to allow a maximum of 250 persons at any event for the rest of the year.
He said this was regardless of the size of the venue.
Back in July, following the relaxation of COVID-19 protocols, Government revealed that a maximum of 500 persons would be allowed to attend an event.
On two days, July 26 and August 1, gatherings beyond 500 were permitted.
At that time Chapman said the numbers allowed would depend on the size of the proposed venue.
But today, Chapman, who is also Deputy Chief Environmental Officer told those gathered that fewer persons would now be allowed to party.
“The unfortunate thing is that the patron limit has been brought down to 250 people and that is directly from the Prime Minister…It is a tough thing to say to some person who is promoting,” he conceded.
When some promoters contended that they would be unable to make a profit with those numbers, Chapman said they would have to hold strain for the remainder of 2020.
He explained that with a second wave of COVID-19 gripping the world and with the country re-opened to visitors, Barbados could ill afford to take any risks.
He gave the assurance that once a vaccine was approved those restrictions would be lifted.
“The consensus basically is that given the level of risk profile that we are at right now, it is better to hold off until the rest of the year and then see where we go from there.
“We are on the cusp of a vaccine…we are about to be able to get a vaccine. Vaccines work for healthy people, they don’t work for sick people. A vaccine would prevent you from getting the disease, it doesn’t cure the disease. So the longer we are able to keep Barbados’ community healthy and then we have widespread uptake of the vaccine, once that happens then we are good to go,” Chapman said.
“We are at that point where we’re coming to the end of the race. We have ran a really good first leg and we are now in the two middle legs and we’re still doing well. It is how we finish the race that makes all the difference. We will get the vaccine here in Barbados and once that happens then we are able to bring back some sense of normalcy.”
Veteran promoter Chetwyn Stewart said while it was not an ideal situation, he was willing to work with authorities.
He, however, admitted that the new restrictions meant he would have to cancel some of his planned events.
Stewart also predicted that several other promoters would follow suit.
“The 250 number is going to cause a lot of events to be cancelled. As a promoter planning events when we plan events we work from like six months out and we have to plan our budgets and you really can’t bring in the money to cover the expenses with only 250 people.
“I was actually planning an event for Christmas night I will immediately cancel because the numbers that we were looking at were 500 and we can’t go over 250,” Stewart said.
“It’s not anyone’s fault but the reality here is that it is going to give promoters a serious lash. Most events between now and Christmas will have to be cancelled because most promoters don’t plan events for less than 500.”
Meanwhile, Chapman served notice that the Monitoring Unit would also be keeping a close eye on the plethora of Old Year’s Night parties, especially the popular practice of gathering at public beaches to watch fireworks.
“We are aware and we are concerned about the issue. We have not started putting any definite plans in place as yet but that is going to come pretty soon. It may be in the form of a PR campaign, it may be in the form of other measures but that is something that we have to look at very, very seriously because it is a Bajan tradition.
He urged persons who could watch fireworks from the comfort of their homes to do so.
“If you can avoid the beaches or any crowded place please do so. If you are going to go to the beach please stay away from the crowds as much as physically possible. Crowded places are not where you want to be. You don’t want to be starting the New Year with issues with COVID so we want persons to be aware of the surroundings, constantly aware that we are still under threat.
“The risks will not be as high as other places but it exists and we want you to be careful and have a toned down 2020 so that we can have a 2021,” Chapman pointed out.