COVID-19 forces cancellation of Antigua Carnival

National Festivals Minister Daryll Matthew.

National Festivals Minister Daryll Matthew announced that the twin-island nation’s premier summer festival has been cancelled this year, as COVID-19 continues to grip the world.

He said that Cabinet, during its discussions over the weekend, accepted his recommendation to call off Carnival which was originally scheduled for July 23 to August 4.

“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,” Matthew said.

“The festival is also expected to be affected by the projected negative economic impact the virus will have on Antigua and Barbuda. 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,” he added.

Matthew also said “the strong belief that the public will have no interest in attending social and entertainment gatherings during and after the COVID-19 pandemic” was another factor contributing to the decision to cancel the 2020 edition of the festival. He disclosed that the Festivals Commission has produced an Independence schedule for this year which will be released when there has been official clearance that the COVID-19 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,” Minister Matthew said. Independence celebrations are expected to be held in the next six months, from October 24 to November 2, 2020.

Antigua and Barbuda has recorded 23 cases of COVID-19, including three deaths and three recoveries.