A decision on whether Trinidad and Tobago’s 2021 Carnival will be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic should be made in the next 90 days, National Carnival Commission chairman Winston Gypsy Peters says.
“We have at least 90 days. I think we can still watch it before we can make a call one way or the other. But the Minister said that we are looking at it and it is fluid,” Peters told Guardian Media on Tuesday.
Peters said the country was lucky the festival is not carded until February 2021.
“We are lucky so far that we have three months ahead of us – by then we would have to say whether it is take off, or grounded,” Peters said.
He pointed out that T&T Carnival is a world event and an intelligent decision must be made on whether the festival is held or not given the health and safety issues with the spread of the virus.
“We have to look at the world, between now and next 90 days they could find a cure, they could eradicate it – a lot of things could happen during the course of that time,” he said.
He said that the go-ahead for Carnival proceedings would not necessarily be dependent on a vaccine but on how rapidly the cases of the virus subside, how well nationals cope with it and how well the world is coping with it.
Additionally, Peters said the world’s outlook would also be considered. When asked if the big Carnival bands would be able to survive on exporting their product to other Carnivals, Peters explained that too would not be possible.
He said: “No they can’t because let me tell you, we are the only country so far that hasn’t cancelled Carnival 2020 you know. So the big bands have nowhere to go really.”
According to Peters, other countries have already cancelled Carnival 2020 offerings.
He emphasised: “Jamaica is cancelled, Canada is cancelled, Labour Day is cancelled, Notting Hill is cancelled, Antigua is cancelled, Barbados Crop Over is cancelled – everywhere is cancelled.”
Nonetheless, Peters said this would not stop the planning for 2021. He said the NCC has to keep monitoring, planning and having discussions because the situation is still mutating. He said that it would be better if the plans for 2021 have to be shelved rather than having no plan to regulate its activities if it is given the all-clear to proceed.
The NCC boss warned, however, that if the festival is eventually cancelled the country would lose between $1.5 and $1.7 billion in revenue.
He said if Carnival 2021 is eventually sanctioned, it would allow the country to have a Carnival of a different kind.
“If the world is not able to come to us, then we can a retro Carnival,” he said.
Such a Carnival would be one where everything is created locally, where there “are all the costumes of yesteryear and a generation now can see what Carnival really used to be.”
But Peters said no matter what the outcome is, he believes COVID-19 will affect Carnival 2021 and future events severely. He noted, though, that the only concern right now is the preservation of life.