COVID-19 and the consequent cancellation of Spicemas 2020 may result in Grenadians getting to observe only one public holiday in August.
Emancipation Day is the only holiday that may be observed as Government has signaled its intention to have both Houses of Parliament to consider the revocation of Carnival Monday and Tuesday as National Holidays this year.
A bill has been drafted that is expected to be brought before the House of Representatives when it meets next week Wednesday, July 29, from 9:00 am. It will then be taken to Senate, and is expected to then be passed into law.
Carnival Monday and Tuesday are mentioned in the Bank Holidays Act, and as such, this legislative process must be followed.
“We cannot touch Emancipation Day, that is a national holiday, it has more significance and it’s not a time for revelry. It is a time to remember our past, to remember where we have come from. It’s a more sober period and I expect us to conduct ourselves accordingly,” said Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell on a televised programme on Wednesday.
Cabinet has already agreed that because a decision was made in May to cancel the 2020 Carnival celebrations, August 10 and 11 will no longer be proclaimed Carnival holidays.
Confirming the news of the cancellation on the programme, Dr Mitchell showed concern for careless behavior at this time. He said, “We can’t have it because if we do, if you have a holiday what you are going to do, just sit home…a lot of people will. [but some will] use it to feel it’s a holiday let’s have fun and not necessarily within the confines of the COVID-19 protocol we have established.”
Dr Mitchell stated, “We better be safe than sorry,” adding, “We have seen enough holidays, we have had to lock down this country for almost 3 months…we have to get back to business, get back to some form of serious economic life in the country.”
Stating that the lockdown from late March to mid-May to contain the spread of COVID-19 has caused significant financial losses to the private and public sectors, Prime Minister Mitchell commented, “We cannot continue that mindset of free time. I don’t think it’s right. I don’t enjoy telling people that we have to forego the Monday holiday, half-day Tuesday, but hopefully next year we going to have a bumper time.”
He added, “Hopefully by the time the vaccine comes on stream and we can protect ourselves, we will be much safer. I believe that we are sacrificing today for a more successful 2021.”
As it relates to the observance of Emancipation, Chief Executive Officer of the Grenada Cultural Foundation, Shirma Wells, explained during a media briefing on Wednesday that traditionally Grenada observed Emancipation holiday on the first Monday of August and on the actual Emancipation Day, there are usually commemorative cultural events.
This year on August 01, 2020, the Foundation which spearheads the activities, will oversee limited activities.
“We will be laying wreaths both on the Melville Street basketball court and in the Market Square as well as having a reading of the proclamation,” Ms Wells said.
Those were the locations where African people were prepared for auctioning and were auctioned, respectively into slavery.
Additionally, on August 01, there will be a virtual panel discussion focusing on the road from slavery. “What we have this year is a compromise plan due to the COVID-19 protocols in place, but we will be observing the day,” Wells said.