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A reveller at Antigua and Barbuda's annual carnival celebrations. (Photo: carnival1st.com)

Cancelled carnival spells another economic blow for Antigua and Barbuda

A reveller at Antigua and Barbuda's annual carnival celebrations. (Photo: carnival1st.com)

The economic fallout of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to affect the Caribbean, this time with the cancellation of Antigua and Barbuda’s carnival.

An aerial view of St John’s, the capital of Antigua and Barbuda. (Photo: Port Shopping Spree)

The announcement came yesterday, April 19, from National Festivals Minister Daryll Matthew, who said the summer event was off, spelling another hit for the country already feeling the pinch of a nationwide curfew and crippled tourism industry due to travel and health restrictions related to the virus.

Matthew said that Cabinet accepted his recommendations to cancel the event scheduled for July 23 to August 4 following discussions over the weekend,

Antigua and Barbuda’s tourism industry has been severely affected by the lack of arrivals and closure of hotels and attractions due to COVID-19. (Photo: investantiguaandbarbuda.org)

“Cabinet looked at the circumstances surrounding the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic and agreed that the hosting of the activities at this time would not be in the best interest of the population in maintaining good health, which is the foremost priority of the government,” he said

Further, he said the decision was influenced by the expected negative economic impact that that virus will have on the country. “It was therefore agreed to cancel the celebrations and advised that the focus should be placed on the planning of Carnival 2021 which will coincide with the hosting of Carifesta XV here in Antigua and Barbuda,” Matthew said.

The conclusion was also drawn from the thought that people would not have interest in participating in the event. “Also contributing to the cancellation of the festivities is the strong belief that the public will have no interest in attending social and entertainment gatherings during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Matthew said.

What’s more, the Festivals Commission has created an Independence Schedule which will be shared once the go-ahead is given that the pandemic has subsided. “We will continue to plan for the Independence celebrations in late October, early November in anticipation that the environment would facilitate activities of this nature.”

Antigua and Barbuda’s plans for Independence celebrations are still being made.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Independence celebrations are expected to be held in the next six months from October 24 to November 2, 2020.

The cancellation of Antigua and Barbuda’s carnival is the latest in a series as regional nations try to contain the spread of the virus which has infected nearly 2.5 million people worldwide.

While several countries, including Barbados, have cancelled this year’s staging of their carnival some, like Jamaica, have rescheduled to later dates in 2020, hoping that the virus threat will have waned, making it safe to stage the event.