Private promoters and other entertainment service providers are technically not allowed to encourage large gatherings or host any event that includes the use of amplified sound.
In fact as concerns about public safety grew, police officers patrolled the country enforcing what amounted to a ban on loud music emanating from local bars, restaurants and other leisure based establishments.
“The general public is hereby notified that as a result of the precautionary measures adopted by the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to treat with the spread of Coronavirus and COVID-19, all permission to play amplified music in any public place ore private premises is cancelled until further notice by authority vested in the Commissioner of Police under Section 17 of the Noise Act, Chapter 278 of the Revised Edition of the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 2009,” a release from the Royal SVG Force said in part.
Of late a sense of laxness towards the hitherto imposed COVID-spread containment guideline is becoming vividly apparent. One well known establishment which is situated on what is known as the entertainment strip in Villa has not been complying with the ban which was announced in March of this year; ultimately turning it into the centre of much revelry as patrons gather to mingle in pre-COVID settings.
That venue is but one of more than several scattered across the country that is seeking to satisfy the socialization demands of Vincentians for whom the annual Easter Festivals and then Vincy Mas was cancelled. In the meantime, local entertainers who comprise the companion economic sector to the hospitality industry are left without the means to earn an income.
Against this background Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves was recently asked, “when would Vincentians be able to fete publicly again?” as he appeared on the latest episode of Asbert News Network and ITFX Digital Solution’s ‘On De Spot’ Facebook Live series.
“I hope sooner rather than later,” PM Gonsalves responded without committing to a specific date. “I would also like it to be sooner rather than later. The factual situation on the ground is that since May 2, and it is now June 7, we haven’t had a case locally. We have had cases which have come in on the cruise ships and they went straight from the cruise ships to quarantine or isolation; so they are not interacting at all with the rest of the population….
“On Monday [June 8] we’re having a caucus of the Heads of the Caribbean Community where we’re discussing precisely this question. And I’m listening very attentively because as you know I didn’t mimic, I didn’t rush and close down I didn’t do any of those things and I’m waiting and watching to hear what other persons are saying and thinking as we seek to evolve a common set of protocols. But it seems to me that already what is happening, the pressure of events and circumstances pushing some countries to jump ahead and open and do their own thing.
“But we must have some idea of phases – where you’re moving from this stage to the next stage to the next stage so that people could have some sense of predictability. In the same way that you’re asking me and that’s why I answered you, ‘sooner rather than later.’
I notice that the Carnival Development Corporation has expressed their intention to have some local festivals including calypso, power soca, ragga soca and the like. They’re looking at that weekend in August which moves from Saturday the first of August to Sunday, the second, the third and the fourth which are holidays – I said that’s an intention. So it’s a work in progress.”
Following PM Gonsalves’ interview sources claimed that SVG’s newest party venue, Envy Nightclub – which has been dormant since the police enforced ban on amplified sound – was already in possession of the requisite permissions to revive its core business, feting.
ANN contacted Nightclub owner, Lester Iroha, to verify the veracity of the claim.
“No, that’s not true” he said in response to the rumor.
His business model, he explained, would require relatively loud sound and depends on hosting large crowds. This means that with physical distance restrictions still in place reopening the venue prematurely would cost more than the current level of lost income.
“People should refrain from spreading rumors because they have a tendency to hurt people’s business. My speakers are at Mark Richardson’s warehouse. Even if I wanted to play music there’s no way I could do that. My business is clubbing, I can’t operate it hide and seek and I would have to operate at capacity to be profitable,” the entertainment entrepreneur said.
Iroha agreed that the rumor may have gotten started since his team posted a teaser announcement meant to hype the first ever Virtual Soca, Calypso and Ragga Soca Monarchs to be hosted here.