Soca artiste Nesta ‘Sekon Sta’ Boxhill insists that all public health regulations were followed in the hosting of the virtual Sekon Sunday, following word from Police Commissioner Gary Griffith that an investigation will be launched into his Queen’s Hall concert Sunday.
Videos of the event, which are now at the centre of a police probe, have been circulating online, causing many, including Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell, to express concern about whether attendees breached the COVID-19 regulations.
In the video some people were seen dancing, others were jumping and waving while singing along to the artistes on stage.
Griffith said yesterday that as far as he is concerned the event was a “public party”.
However, Sekon Sta insisted while there was “a lot of vibes” at Queens Hall that night, it was far from a fete or public party.
“I think the Police Commissioner will like people to investigate the use of public spaces but this was not a party. There were no tickets sold for this event. It was ‘invites only’ and what was not shown is the behind the scenes.”
Responding to the videos he said, “You have to understand the people who were seen together came together but what was learnt is that for optics and security reasons let’s not put people in the front seat because that is where any kind of regulation was broken. If you look at the actual video they were immediately seated”.
He assured that both his crew and the team at the venue were very “meticulous” about the movement of attendees.
“There were limitations to the amount of people allowed backstage. Both Queen’s Hall and us agreed to what is in the Public Ordinance and we went with 200 people out of the 800 even though they are allowed to have 50 per cent,” he said.
He added, “Everybody wore masks for the entirety of the event and you could check the video footage. Contact tracing forms were used when persons entered the venue so that we have full contact tracing. Seatings were spaced and persons sat with who they came with”.
He also indicated that there were people assigned to clean and sanitise surfaces during the event.
In a statement yesterday, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell said he has requested an immediate meeting with the board and management of all national spaces under the ministry to “revise the operations of these performance spaces”.
The soca artiste hopes the Sekon Sunday event will be used as a template to better plan future events rather than block others from happening as he noted the industry is already suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Griffith said from what he saw, the event appeared to have breached the regulations.
“The TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service) will launch an investigation into this event,” Griffith said.
He noted that while the event was carried on television and on social media platforms, the video footage was quite clear in that “it showed numerous patrons inside Queen’s Hall dancing to the music of several artistes.”
“The law was quite clear and there must be a level playing field for all,” Griffith said.
The Commissioner said he was informed that similar events like the one which took place at Queen’s Hall on Sunday, are being planned and being advertised on social media.
He added that promoters, in the absence of Carnival 2021, are trying to be novel by organising events in public spaces with all the ingredients of a party or in some cases, a band launching.
When contacted for comment on Griffith’s statements and the launch of the investigation into Sunday’s event, Tourism, Culture and Arts Minister, Randall Mitchell disclosed that Sekon Sunday was recorded to be broadcast and gave the assurance to the public of the Ministry’s commitment to Public Health Guidelines and Protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Mitchell confirmed invitations were issued to approximately 200 persons which is 30 per cent, well under the 50 per cent capacity allowed by Queen’s Hall COVID-19 guidelines for the hosting of events at its venue.
He said all invitees were subjected to the protocols outlined, among others, which are in place at Queen’s Hall:
• Adherence to physical distancing
• Provision of name, address, phone contact and email address to allow for contact tracing
• Temperature check and symptom screening
• Sanitisation of hands upon entry using sinks for sanitizers
• Wearing of masks which must be kept on during the performance/activity
However, Mitchell admitted that he is concerned over what he saw in the videos.
“I share the concern of the Commissioner. I’ve summoned a meeting of the chairmen and managers of these performing spaces and I have extended an invitation to the Commissioner to attend should he deem it fit,” Mitchell said.