Citizens believe Government should either postpone or cancel outright, Carnival 2020 celebrations, over coronavirus concerns

Cabinet is meeting today to discuss what protocols should be activated in the event of a Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in Trinidad and Tobago.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh will be taking a note to Cabinet concerning how to deal with the possibility. He also will be asking for the creation of an early warning system concerning health epidemics for this country, as well as recommending a region-wide early warning system for CARICOM, especially in light of the recent coronavirus scare in Jamaica, earlier this week.

Trinbagonians concerned

Meanwhile, as the Wuhan coronavirus makes its way around the globe—reportedly present in at least 15 countries—many Trinbagonian citizens have begun to say that we may need to re-think hosting T&T Carnival 2020.

This, in the wake of news that it might be the best and most successful staging of the event ever, with all major hotels in the capital booked to capacity.

Citizens are beginning to wonder if Government should postpone Carnival—if not call it off altogether—rather than increasing the risk of coronavirus showing up here, with all the visitors booked to enter our shores.

Here’s what a few of you had to say on the issue:

Male caller: “We may just have to pause Carnival because we can’t afford an outbreak here. That is going to be a serious decision and not many people are going to like it, but at the end of the day, health comes first. Remember, this is a virus that they don’t even have a cure yet.”

Female caller: “There were so many viruses going around in 2019. One year of cancelling carnival would not affect us. Carnival will grow and we will have other Carnivals. Our health is important. The population’s health is important. So, I think they should cancel carnival.”

Male caller: “I think Government should act now and postpone Carnival. We also have to look at people coming in to Trinidad via South America, and ensure there are proper checks and balances in place to screen everyone.”

Female caller: “I don’t think they should cancel Carnival; I think they should postpone Carnival. Let’s see if they get an antivirus vaccine for the coronavirus, and then we can have the Carnival. So in case something happens, we have the antivirus to give the people.”

Female caller: “They really should cancel the Carnival, because they cannot look at money and all these things and not study our health. I think we should petition for them to cancel.”

Male caller: “I think it’s not the first time they would have cancelled Carnival. I think many years ago we postponed Carnival because of a polio outbreak. It’s not the end of the world. I think it’s the sensible thing to do.”

Not an easy decision to make

However, cancelling or even postponing T&T Carnival 2020 will be an expensive proposition, as Lead Editor on Guardian Media’s Business Desk, Curtis Williams, explains.

He points out that Carnival is the high point of Trinidad’s tourism season.

Curtis Williams says in addition to hoteliers being hit hard—all of whom are reporting 100 percent occupancy rates this year—everyone connected to the carnival industry will be hurting too.

“The airlines, the entertainers, the number of people involved in logistics, caterers, fete promoters… It’s going to hurt many people,” he observes. “We forget that Carnival is a billion dollar industry, where people have invested a great deal of money and have significant returns. There are people who live their entire year based on what they do during Trinidad and Tobago Carnival,” he points out.

He adds: “Cancelling or postponing Carnival is not something to be undertaken lightly, nor should the coronavirus be taken lightly, either.”

Story by NEWS DESK