Let Us Not Drop Our Guard
Under normal circumstances St Vincent and the Grenadines would now be right at the height of Carnival celebrations. Unfortunately, little in the year 2020 has been “normal” so far, or likely to be for the rest of the year.
For the second time since the 1977 changeover to June/ July Carnival, there will be no Carnival this year. It happened in 1979 as a result of the effects of, and disruption caused by, the volcanic eruption of La Soufriere. Coincidentally, in that year, general elections, our first after Independence, took place in the month of December.
It is widely speculated that in 2020, voters are going to be asked to exercise their franchise before the year ends.
The two holidays granted annually for Carnival, due to fall on July 6 and 7 have been cancelled but replaced by a two-day holiday at the beginning of August, making a long Emancipation holiday. It would be good if advantage could be taken of this to have an extended period of Emancipation activities, but as things are now, that seems highly unlikely.
What seems more likely is that the holiday weekend would become an occasion for allowing people to “free up”, to quote Prime Minister Gonsalves, after the social restrictions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Young people in particular, with not even having an outlet for sporting recreation, must be feeling bottled up, so a period of relaxation will of course be most welcome.
Already there are signs that those in the entertainment business may be planning some activities for the period and there have even been hints of some sort of “mini-Festival”. Given the gradual relaxation of restrictions imposed to combat COVID-19, including an expected lifting of the ban on amplified music in public, and the expected resumption of flights, though on a limited basis given the LIAT collapse, one can anticipate a number of social activities.
However we must approach any such relaxing with caution. There are many experiences globally before our eyes which indicate that there is a price to pay for reckless abandon. Tens of thousands of people in the United States are finding that out to their own detriment. Whether we like it or not, we are not out of the woods as yet where COVID-19 is concerned and we must be guided by our medical experts who have demonstrated their competence and mature guidance so far.
That guidance must continue to be sought and directions followed if we are to avoid tragedy later. Indeed, such a long holiday weekend makes it all the more imperative that we approach any “freeing-up” with the caution which our circumstances warrant and not squander the benefits of wise medical advice.