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From left, TEMA director Allan Stewart, County Medical Officer of Health Dr Tiffany Hoyte, THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, acting Medical Chief of Staff Dr Victor Wheeler and acting general manager Primary Care Services Dr Roxanne Mitchell at yesterday’s press conference at the Magdalena Grand, Tobago, where it was announced that the 2020 Tobago Jazz Experience had been cancelled.

Casandra Thompson-Forbes

The 2020 edition of the Tobago Jazz Experience has been cancelled.

Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles made the announcement at a news conference at the Magdalena Grand Hotel yesterday. The decision came after the country confirmed its first case of COVID-19, a 52-year-old man, mere hours earlier.

Charles said the decision was made as a proactive approach towards safeguarding citizens. Highlighting several cancellations across the region and the world, including the halting of the cruise ship season, Charles said it was the safest thing to do

“By now you may have also have heard that the cruise ship season has come to an end and we were expecting from Tobago an additional seven cruise ships, those will no longer be allowed to enter. I can say to you as well that the Tobago Jazz Experience is off,” Charles said.

Although no artiste was announced for the April event, Charles said planning was well underway. He said the decision to cancel it had to be treated carefully, especially when deposits were already paid and negotiations were ongoing. He said legal advice was sought and the THA would not face any legal backlash as a result of the decision.

“In order to proceed with Jazz, we had to make deposits in respect of some of our international and regional artists and therefore any cancellation by us, in circumstances where it may have been difficult to argue a case of force majeure or frustration, would have rendered it almost impossible to reclaim those deposits,” Charles said.

“Having regard that the World Health Organisation has proclaimed pandemic status and having regard as well to the fact that there is a first case in Trinidad and Tobago, the advice that I have obtained legally suggests that we now have an arguable case in order to ensure that we get our deposits returned.”

The Easter period is one of the highest Tourism income earners for the island. Several events are carded for this period, including the highly-anticipated Buccoo Goat and Crab Race, Mt Pleasant Easter Sports and Family Day Festivities and many fear they too could be affected if the virus continues its global spread. Charles said these events are still on the cards but further updates would be made subsequently.