Monday, November 22, 2021


The UK has said it will revisit travel rules at the start of 2022. If Guatemala goes back on the red list as a result of avoidable super-spreader events like yesterday's, it will only have itself to blame. 

One has to magine that any European visitors already in situ and possibly trying to have a quiet, relaxing time here in Antigua (as per the city's increasingly undeserved reputation in foreign glossies) found the crowds pretty dismaying, such that any short term boost from national/regional spending could be offset pretty quickly by damage to the international traffic.

There is a recurring pheomenon here that transcends the present situation. Every time a public event is 'coordinated' in La Antigua, be it the Festival de la Calle del Arco, La Quema del Diablo etc., within a couple of years it is swamped with dangerously excessive numbers of participants and rather than contributing to the things that supposedly give this city its unique appeal, these swollen events foster a series of avoidable public safety hazards and and lowest common denominator 'cultural' activities. 

Perhaps the key novelty that organisers need to understand and in a sense, manage, is the saturation of smartphones over the past decade. 

Recent events at Travis Scott's Astroworld show how quickly and badly things can go wrong. Billowing hazards emerge when you have hundreds of people in a crowd pushing into a confined space, all of them dead set at arriving at the front of said crowd so that they can document a spectacle for social media. 

The nature of Antigua's tentpole mass participation events has changed significantly and largely because of the unprecedented progressions in the spectator dynamics.

Right now though it should not be so hard to maintain some semblance of social distancing and mask protocol adherence. 

Last year, at the start of the pandemic and before such superspreader events were properly understood, one football match in Liverpool involving visiting fans from Madrid reportedly resulted in around 40 covid deaths in that city. 

Many of the Festival de Flores herd yesterday will have been vaccinated, but nowhere near enough (viz Austria), and the processional movement around town and the duration of this invasion will surely prove significant. 

That and the fact that people descended on Antigua from all over the country and then, presumably, went back to where they came from.

Of all the events to permit, this one — little more than Instagram and covid bait with shallow roots in local tradition — was possibly the most irresponsible choice at this undoubtedly rather delicate moment. 

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