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FLASHBACK: Revellers from Paparazzi presentation of Hidden-Master of Disguise, cross the stage along South Quay Port-of-Spain, during the Parade of Bands, on Carnival Tuesday.

Chairman of the Tobago Business Chamber, Martin George, is urging Government to refocus its energies from attempting to host Carnival events this year in Safe Zones, and to put the emphasis instead on the education sector, the economy and battling COVID-19.

In an official statement released in social media, Martin George says Government should be guided by the “record numbers of COVID cases and the disinterest of bandleaders, promoters and performers, in such events”.

“Given the push back from the persons who are most concerned with running Carnival events, they have indicated that there really is not enough time to really make this a feasible venture,” George points out. 

“From the perspective of the Tobago Business Chamber, this seems to reflect the reality, much more than Government’s idea, especially since the persons operating on the ground would be the ones best placed to know whether or not it is practical to host Carnival this year,” he said.

Martin George observes that this goes double for Tobago, noting that even in the best of times, the Tobago Carnival product often pales in comparison to what obtains in Trinidad.

“The whole situation is exacerbated by the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the country,” he remarked.  “We were warned by Dr Hinds that we would cross one thousand cases a day, and we did that yesterday with 1,063 cases being recorded in this country.  Not to mention that we appear to be averaging roughly 15 deaths per day.”

He added: “It doesn’t seem to inspire confidence at all in any one to try to continue to have these events, or to push ahead with the idea.  The key stakeholders—artists, bandleaders, entertainers—have come out against it.  One wonders why Government is persisting with this particular agenda when we have more important considerations at stake.”

The Tobago Business Chamber boss says the country would be better served by focussing on more fundamental issues: sustainable economic recovery; strengthening the health care system; fixing the education system and ensuring the nation’s children can return to school safely.