By David Hinkson
The current restrictions on the entertainment sector – including the cancellation of Barbados’ premier cultural event, Crop Over, for the second year in a row, the continued ban on party cruises and the limiting of land-based events to a maximum of 150 patrons – are in keeping with “best practices” outlined by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for Culture, John King made this clear as he responded to concerns raised by promoters and other stakeholders in the entertainment sector, following a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Tuesday.
After the discussion, which was also attended by representatives of the Health Ministry and the National Cultural Foundation, promoter Baggio Best argued that “150 people cannot pay for a land event, especially when you are bringing in structures like a stage and decking”.
“So, we went in asking for 750 people, because 750 can pay for an event. In fact, anything less than 500 people makes no sense for a land-based event in Barbados,” Best insisted.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY, King said “obviously there is a lack of appreciation for what the health authorities are saying”.
“This is best practice from the Ministry of Health, and in the meeting, the Ministry of Health was clear, clear, clear with the entertainment representatives, outlining all the scenarios as to why they came up with these numbers. They also made the point that these numbers were not stagnant, but as things progress they would try to do more based on the situation. All of this was abundantly clear during the meeting,” he said.
King declined comment on the issue of party cruises on vessels such as the MV Buccaneer and MV Dreamchaser, which promoters argued were technically safer in terms of adhering to the COVID-19 protocols than land-based activities.
Best had contended that cruises are easier to police than land events, “because there are all kinds of loopholes where you can get into a land event”. “Besides, the rules allow for 50 people on a catamaran, and surely you can allow the Buccaneer and Dreamchaser to operate with the same number of people since they are much bigger vessels,” he insisted.
King reiterated that all the current COVID-19 restrictions were in keeping with protocols established by the health authorities and that they would be lifted once the ministry was confident that the COVID-19 situation was under control.
The entertainment sector has been one of the major casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic, with major events like Crop Over and smaller affairs such as party cruises, karaoke sessions and bus crawls being cancelled.
After a severe spike in cases during the last week of 2020, all Old Year’s Night parties were also called off.