Guadeloupean street carnival will officially restart…but with a high risk of contamination

After days of consultation, the Prefecture, local authorities and carnival federations have finally agreed : as of Sunday, February 13, 2022, the parades will officially take place in the streets of Pointe-à-Pitre. If all goes well, this experiment will be extended to the capital of Guadeloupe, Basse-Terre, and to the other municipalities of the archipelago.

In order to guarantee the safety of the spectators, the prefectural authorities ask the members of the various groups to carry out, before the parade, a test whose result must be negative.

After two years of stoppage due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the carnival of Guadeloupe and its king Vaval who is burned every Ash Wednesday will rise from their ashes. However, it should be noted that this ban on street parades was becoming unmanageable for the authorities because, every Sunday, “clandestine” parades were organized in the streets of Pointe-à-Pitre and the crowd gathering along the sidewalks was growing, forgetting the curfew at 8:00 pm and the ban on gatherings of more than six people on the public road.

However, if the authorities agree to let this part of our heritage express itself, to let the people “breathe”, questions remain on this organization.

Indeed, if all precautions should be taken regarding the revelers so that they do not contaminate each other and the population, what measures are taken so that there is no contamination between spectators? Carnival is a moment of popular joy, how can they force spectators to keep silent and wear masks and to respect distancing? What “health bubble” are they talking about? The majority of Guadeloupeans categorically refusing to be vaccinated, finally the herd immunity so long awaited by some will be realized when everyone is contaminated…

Moreover, it should be noted that on Sundays, the parades in Pointe-à-Pitre are composed of a few “Ti-Mass groups” and “snare drums groups” and a majority of “skin groups”. Given that these “skin groups” advocate the freedom to parade as they want and according to the circuit they have established, therefore with no authority that controls them, we can only wonder about the effectiveness of the measures announced. It is also announced that the curfew will be changed : currently from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am, it will be from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am this Saturday. In general, the “skin groups” leave their premises around 6:00 pm to parade until midnight or 1:00 am, are the prefectural authorities certain that the revellers will have stopped the festivities at 10:00 pm, when the atmosphere is maximized in the heat of the night?

Our Caribbean neighbours who organized their carnival last year (St. Kitts & Nevis, Montserrat, Virgin Islands of the United States …) as well as Trinidad & Tobago which began its festivities on February 4, have all canceled the large street parades preferring shows in specific places with vaccinated participants. The carnival of Guadeloupe is a street carnival, this organization in a bubble proves difficult to put in practice to avoid this virus…