SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - “A Safe Carnival For All” is the name of the Carnival 2022 COVID Safety Plan that was launched by the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) on Thursday. President of the foundation Alston Lourens explained that the foundation spent months putting together the plan which builds on SCDF’s existing Carnival COVID plan which was set to be enforced if there were a Carnival 2021 festival.
As that event was also cancelled, the foundation used the past few months to study the successful templates of international festivals that were successfully held over the summer of 2021. In doing so, some operational initiatives came to light which could be adjusted to St. Maarten Carnival, in particular how festivals were structured around the availability of vaccines.
The foundation has presented its plan to Minister of VSA Omar Ottley and Minister of TEATT Roger Lawrence. Ottley specifically commended the foundation for the plan and noted that he and his team view protocols as fluid regulations that can change and adjust at a moment’s notice. Lourens explained that the Minister and CPS will always have the opportunity to advise and suggest changes to the presented Carnival safety plan.
“We have worked long and hard on this plan because we are confident that with the presence of the vaccine, effective testing, and other operational protocols, we could have a safe and fun Carnival 2022. It will boil down to personal responsibility and strict adherence to rules and regulations,” Lourens said.
“We have put in place a range of measures to make the St. Maarten Carnival experience as COVID-safe as possible. We understand that this is an unprecedented time, and although we feel safe and secure that we've provided an environment where our patrons will be safely able to enjoy Carnival, we also understand the mental stress and fear associated with the pandemic. As such we have added more measures to our existing and extensive COVID-19 plan,” Lourens said.
Full Vaccination and Testing
The SCDF strongly encourage all residents and guests to vaccinate fully against COVID-19. In order to be fully vaccinated in time for Carnival 2022 and the events in Carnival Village, persons need to have received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine (or an internationally recognized and accepted vaccine) by April 1, 2022 (two weeks prior to Carnival).
Carnival 2022 will require full COVID-19 vaccination or negative PCR COVID-19 test results to enter Carnival Village at any time during the day or night. For patrons who are not vaccinated, a negative PCR COVID-19 test result must be obtained 72-hours prior to entering Carnival Village. If you are planning on attending the festival for its full 19 days you will need to get tested every three days and bring new proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
To be verified as vaccinated individuals must be fully vaccinated. A person is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series. The following are acceptable as proof of full vaccination: Vaccination card (which includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided and date last dose administered) OR a photo of a vaccination card as a separate document OR a photo of the attendee’s vaccine card stored on a phone or electronic device. Self-reported vaccination records that are not verified by a health care provider cannot be accepted.
The following are acceptable as proof of a negative COVID-19 test result: printed document (from the test provider or laboratory) OR an email displayed on a phone or electronic device from the test provider or laboratory. The information provided should include name of person tested, type of test performed, and date of negative test result (for PCR test, date of negative result must be within prior 72 hours.) Self-reported negative test results that are not from a test provider, a laboratory, or a health care provider cannot be accepted.
Though masks are not currently required for outdoor events, the SCDF will strongly recommended their usage at all times in Carnival Village. The foundation will also have fully stocked kiosk with face masks, sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizers (for sale) erected in Carnival Village.
“Our staff, volunteers, sponsors, bootholders and contractors will not be exempt from any of these protocols including mask wearing. We will be strict on ourselves and our teams and hold ourselves accountable. Naturally in Carnival Village there is a lot of eating and drinking. For persons who are not comfortable eating at a booth, we will also have two food courts in our VIP areas,” Lourens said, adding that once a person is not eating or drinking they should wear a mask “especially if you are not vaccinated.”
Carnival Village Operational actions
- Random health & hygiene checks of all booths internally and externally by health inspectors.
- Hand Sanitizing equipment are required to be placed at each booth by the booth holder.
- Booths are power-washed and sanitized regularly during the three week period of Carnival.
- A professional waste and garbage removal company is on duty 24-7.
- A professional cleaning crew is on duty 24-7 (to handle restrooms ect)
- The SCDF requires that portable hand-washing sinks are placed in every booth by the booth holder.
- Booth holders are required to sanitize and disinfect their immediate areas of operation throughout the day.
- The Ambulance Department maintains a fully functional mini-medical center on premises.
- All booths will be sanitized by a professional crew every morning before the booths are operational.
- Additional hand-washing stations in the vicinity of the rest rooms will be placed
- Cleaning crew will double its manpower and execute increased thorough cleaning of public areas.
- There will be no tickets sold at the gate for any event, thereby minimizing lines and people having to stand close to each other to get into the Village. In the event of lines forming, SCDF has enough volunteers to ensure social distancing at the gates.
- We will also promote signage, digital messaging inside the village to all patrons and their entourages about COVID-19 and how to prevent infection.
The foundation is also asking for a personal pledge from patrons: that you not attend if any of the following is true for you or anyone in your party: Within 48 hours prior to attending the festival, you have experienced symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., a fever of 100.4F or higher, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking muscle pain/achiness, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, nasal congestion, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue or any other symptoms associated with COVID-19 identified by CPS.
“The clear advantage that the SCDF has is being able to promote not just the festival for months in advance, but also all of the aforementioned measures. SCDF will utilize all of its social media platforms as well as its stakeholders in getting the message out. Signage will be everywhere and in the village the reminders and awareness imagery will be glaring. Calypsonians, bands, troupe leaders, pageant contestants and other Carnival stalwarts will be included in our promotional plan which will lean heavily on video content. A big part of our push will be encouraging Carnival lovers to get vaccinated,” Lourens concluded.