Mitchell: Carnival proposal to be sent to health ministry, PM to decide after

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Masqueraders participate in a taste of Carnival event hosted by KFC as a promotion at its Independence Square, Port of Spain branch on February 16, 2021. – File photo/Jeff Mayers

Discussions on the possibility of Carnival 2022 have intensified as Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell is expected to present a proposal to the Ministry of Health to consider a carnival-like celebration.

The Prime Minister briefly touched on the topic of Carnival during his address to the nation last November. He said, “Carnival 2022 will not see street parades, unvaccinated gatherings and wild public parties,” adding, “There is room for a safe zone venues specific events where some elements of the festival can be sampled as a Carnival microcosmic mosaic with a difference.”

Mitchell told Newsday after the proposal has been submitted to the health ministry, the Prime Minister will make a decision.

“We’ve had several meetings with the stakeholders, including the CMO, including the Ministry of Digital Transformation, National Carnival Commission (NCC), including the Ministry of National Security, on the question of Carnival-type events as the PM said, a microcosm of Carnival, so it’s more like a teaser, carnival-type events in January or February 2022.

“We are putting a proposal to the Ministry of Health by Friday or Saturday which they will consider along with the Prime Minister and that team and a decision will be made by the Prime Minister in due course.”

Mitchell said, “Things are looking shaky now with the two new variants on us. The ministry will look at the proposal and decide based on that.”

Carnival 2021 celebrations were called off as the country battled to reduce covid19 infections and deaths but stakeholders are hopeful that some type of celebration – even if it’s virtual – is hosted to keep the festival alive. The Carnival season has unofficially begun with soca artistes releasing new music and at least one school promoting a fund-raiser fete. The Carnival days are February 28 and March 1.

NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy,” Peters told Newsday the possibility of any type of Carnival celebration has to be dependent on covid19 infections, hospitalisation and fatalities.

“I would be in a better position to say next week. This is not on us alone it’s based on what the government says. We have to look at the situation, and weigh it.”

He said discussions with stakeholders will intensify in the coming days. “The stakeholders, from the last time we spoke to them, said they wanted it. But now we have a different climate so we are going to revisit our plans with more consultations.

“We are still looking at the ‘What ifs’ and that why we said we must keep something of some form is because we must keep our space in Carnival in the world.

“We are in a two weeks preparedness mode. If anything is agreed on and the government gives the go-ahead all that is going to happen will take place in two weeks, whether it be Soca Monarch, Chutney Soca Monarch, Calypso Monarch, the combination would be in two weeks.”

“We have already said what we are getting involved in won’t be a street parade but it would be done in venues an

Peters said he understands the efforts that are required of him to ensure TT’s culture remains alive during and even after the covid19 pandemic.

Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore said bands are eagerly awaiting government’s final decision on Carnival 2022.

“Whether that comes to fruition or not, we are going to have our virtual event as we had it last year. We had Pan in Spirit and we are going to have in Pan in Spirit 2 for small, medium and large.”

TT ended 2021 with December recording the highest number of infections in a month – 20,538 – and deaths a 711. The country also has 12 cases of the omicron variant, although delta remains the dominant strain.