Speaking publicly on the topic for the first time since making the announcement that there will be a Crop Over 2022, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley reassured Barbadians that the annual festival will be staged “responsibly”.
This is welcomed news especially at this time as our COVID-19 numbers continue to rise.
The Prime Minister who is also the Minister of Culture was speaking Wednesday on VOB’s Down the Brasstacks call in programme, when she told Barbadians that while she felt the country was ready to stage such a mass event, the country however had to be guided by Chief Medical Officer Dr. The Most Honourable Kenneth George.
Mottley told listeners: “I believe that the CMO [Chief Medical Officer] and others felt that they could take a risk with a Kadooment but it could not be in a densely populated area which could lead to greater public health issues.
“I therefore am sensitive to the fact that you may have vendors along the route and I have asked the NCF [National Cultural Foundation] to try to accommodate as many vendors in the new location as possible. Sometimes you will get changes.
“I hope that it is not a permanent change because I love the idea of Kadooment next to the beach quite frankly. But we also have to respect those people who have responsibility for our public health control measures and who have said: ‘Look we are prepared to work with you, but we need an environment that we can best control and that is less exposed to dense housing.’ Hence the decision to go around the Botanical Gardens and the highway,” she told Barbadians.
The Prime Minister has reaffirmed the sentiments of the Chief Executive Officer of the NCF Carol Roberts-Reifer, head of the promoters association Rudy Maloney and head of the Masqueraders group Anthony Layne. They have all said publicly that their aim was to stage safe events as they urge patrons to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols.
However, in staging these safe events, some artistes and dee-jay had called for a review of the protocols. The first call was made by Maloney on behalf of the dee-jays.
It was only last weekend that president of the Barbados Association of Creatives and Artistes (BACA) Sean Apache Carter challenged the then existing protocols, saying they were making life difficult for some; especially those who were unvaccinated.
It was on the eve of a Benevolent Concert, paying tribute to Richard Stoute and MacDonald Grynnner Blenman, that he said himself and other entertainers who wanted to perform were excluded because they were unvaccinated.
Carter was reported as saying: “The protocols will affect the cast for the tribute show but there are other shows that people are performing at without having these discriminatory directives against them. It is not a level playing field at all, which is what we were saying since June last year when we met with the Prime Minister, head of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit and the Ministry of Health.”
Ironically, when the new protocols were published on Saturday, May 14, there was an amendment which now allows entertainers to perform with the options of either being vaccinated or taking a valid COVID-19 test.
Performers are now required to either be fully vaccinated or produce a negative rapid antigen test 24 hours in advance. In the previous directive, artistes were required to be both fully vaccinated and present a negative test.
This was great news for many.
Popular deejay Patrick Salt Bellamy told Barbados TODAY having to pay for testing was proving to be expensive.
“I think it is fair that we don’t have to be both vaccinated and tested as deejays and artistes because we don’t really interact with the public any more so than the average patron, and probably less. It was also getting a bit costly having to be tested. The weekend of May Day, that was a three-day weekend but I had to be tested four times and every test cost $30 to $35.”
Reigning Soca Monarch Michael Mikey Mercer said it was challenging.
“I welcome the relaxation. I understand to an extent why it was so stringent initially, but I definitely welcome the relaxation because it was getting pricey and as a vocalist getting swabbed so often it was really starting to play on my sinuses and it was affecting my voice as well.”
We hope that both artistes and patrons work with the Prime Minister, CMO, NCF and other players to stage the “safe” Crop Over they all desire. Personal care and taking responsibility, even while frolicking, is tantamount to ensuring that a week or two after the festival we do not record a surge in COVID-19 cases.