Worry time for Caribbean calendar
Published on February 4th, 2021
With optimism in November 2020 for the upcoming Caribbean sailing season, the variance of health restrictions among the islands in January 2021 made the road forward less clear.
Significant effort years ago to sort out the schedule among the prominent Caribbean events was to build interest, but with several 2021 events already cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is worry time for this island paradise.
Previously announced cancellations:
February 22 – RORC Caribbean 600
March 4-7 – St. Maarten Heineken Regatta
March 17-20 – St Barths Bucket Regatta
April 11-17 – Les Voiles de St. Barth
After the 2020 cancellation, the return to ‘business as usual’ in St Barthélemy as of June 2020 had given much hope for the 2021 edition but new conditions for entering and leaving the island, with a seven-day quarantine upon arrival, as well as an obligatory reason for travel, and the need to get PCR testing for all involved, made the international regatta impossible to organize.
While St. Thomas International Regatta (Mar. 26-28) and BVI Spring Regatta (Mar. 29-Apr. 4) remain a go, the circuit ends with Antigua Sailing Week (Apr. 25-30) which is a key shipping hub for international boats, and is a region that is now struggling with the coronavirus.
Over the past week, Antigua and Barbuda have seen a significant increase in the number of COVID -19 cases causing the Government to make the decision to extend curfew hours from 8 pm to 5 am daily along with closing bars and only allowing restaurants to serve food for takeaway.
Additionally mask-wearing, social distancing, and gatherings of no more than 10 people in public or private are mandatory. When caught without a mask, an on-the-spot fine for non-compliance can be levied of EC$500, or, if an arrest is made, a fine of EC$5000 or 6 months imprisonment can be applied.
While some events rely more on international travel than others, and some are helped by divisions suited for the cruising charter fleets, the threat of COVID-19 remains a concern for the remaining 2021 schedule.