PR-The Government of Grenada says while its decision to cancel the 2020 Carnival celebrations might be an unpopular one, it is a wise choice intended to protect public health and safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister, Dr. the Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell, who tabled the COVID-19 Cancellation of Carnival August Celebrations Bill 2020, at a meeting of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, said Government must act in the best interest of public health.
In 2019, 13,327 visitors arrived in Grenada during the Carnival period. The figure represented an increase of almost 1,000 visitors over 2018 statistics. Further, many of these visitors had already booked tickets to return for the 2020 celebrations.
Dr. Mitchell said the financially prudent decision would be to stage the festival, especially in light of the significant drop in revenue as a result of three months of no productivity due to the lockdown. However, as a responsible government, they must protect the gains they have made so far. “What would the revenue mean to government, when the people the government is supposed to protect get infected, and some even go through serious illness that can affect them for life or even cause their death?”
Throwing her full support behind the bill, Tourism Minister, Hon. Clarice Modeste Curwen said while carnival has made Grenada a competitive destination, we cannot throw away the gains made through collective sacrifice of the past few months. “As much as we like carnival, and as much as it does for the economy, I beg everyone, let us comply, and let us leave the jab for a while. Next year will be bigger and better for us, but we have to make the sacrifice now.”
Minister for Health, Hon. Nickolas Steele said tabling the bill is not the desire of a cruel, authoritarian government, nor is it a political policy. “We are a responsible government, and as such, we are not prepared to play Russian roulette with the lives of our citizens.”
The Prime Minister had earlier made reference to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Control Bill 2020, which was withdrawn from Wednesday’s agenda after public concern over some aspects of that bill. He affirmed Government’s intention to undertake public consultation. “Let’s work together, the government erred in not allowing for sufficient consultation, we admit this, and like the Minister of Legal Affairs said, we will improve on that aspect. It is our error, we accept it but assure you that there was no bad intention. We will not want to interfere with the fundamental rights of any citizen. But let us come together to build our country and let us unite to protect each other.”