Published On: Sun, Oct 17th, 2021

Carnival returns with strict safety protocols

PHILIPSBURG — After a hiatus of two years Carnival is once again on the calendar for 2022. The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) announced 24 days of Carnival events, beginning with the opening of the Carnival Village on April 16 and ending with the burning of King Momo on May 3. Before the opening of the village there are five pre-Carnival events.

The SCDF will establish strict COVID-19 protocols to protect revelers against infection and it has scrapped all jump-ups and Jouvert morning. The only road events are the Children Parade (April 17) and the Grand Carnival Parade (May 1).

Entry into the Carnival village is only open to fully vaccinated revelers and to those who can show a negative PCR-test taken 72 hours before any event.

“There is no responsible manner for us to host an event that draws 25,000 people to the road, uncontrolled,” SCDF-President Alston Lourens said in a press statement. “That is not a tenable situation. We can have protocols for parades in discussion with troupe leaders and we can control an enclosed open-air venue like Carnival Village where our protocols and safety plan will be strictly enforced.”

The strict measures have drawn mild criticism from former SCDF-President Stuart Johnson, who wondered in a press release whether the government is holding the Carnival-organization to a double standard, given the fact that “there are endless entertainment events happening throughout our island without the true enforcement of Covid-19 protocols” on a weekly basis.

Johnson also wonders whether there is no viable option to add Jouvert morning to the Carnival calendar – though it seems that the SCDF has already concluded on its own that this is not doable in a responsible manner.

The schedule features eleven locally-themed events in Carnival Village, six international shows, and three parades. The Night of the Hit Makers (April 30), Caribbean Flag Fest (April 23), One Love Reggae Concert (April 29), Bacchanal Sunday (April 24), Noche Latina (April 27) and Soulful Company (April 25) will all be part of the schedule.

The carnival foundation encourages all residents and visitors to get fully vaccinates against COVID-19. According to covidvaxlive.com 50,604 vaccine doses have been administered by now in St. Maarten at a rate of 58 per day. According to these data St. Maarten could achieve a 70 percent vaccination rate in 176 days, or by April 10, 2022 – six days before the opening of the Carnival Village.

To be fully vaccinated in time for Carnival and the events in Carnival Village, persons need to have received their second dose of an internationally recognized vaccine by April 1, 2022, the SCDF says.

A negative PCR-test, obtained 72 hours before an event, will also grant revelers access to the Carnival Village. For those who want to be there for all 19 days of the festival this means that they will have to be tested once every three days.

The SCDF requires that Carnival Village visitors be fully vaccinated. People are fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received their second dose. Upon entering the village, visitors have to present valid proof of vaccination.

The SCDF furthermore recommends that revelers wear a facemask during the time they spend in the village. The organization asks people to stay away from the village if they have experienced COVID-19 symptoms within 48 hours prior to an event.

All these measures may take some of the fun out of Carnival but President Lourens is looking forward to the return of what has been labeled as St. Maarten’s most important cultural event: “We should never underestimate the importance of Carnival to the local vendor, the taxi driver, the small and medium hotel properties, food wholesalers and retailers, song-writers, musicians, DJ’s, costume makers, makeup-artists, bartenders, sound and light engineers, printing companies, beverage companies and more. Carnival moves every sector and after two years of non-activity, all of our partners and the economy of our country are ready to move again.”


Related links:
2022 Carnival Schedule
Is SXM Carnival 2022 being held to a double standard?
SCDF announce pageant prizes, will  make shows less costly for contestants