NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture announced yesterday that the national Junkanoo parades for the 2020/2021 season have been postponed, until or unless it is safe for “group gatherings”.
The country continues to grapple with fluctuating cases of COVID-19, with the number of infections standing at 7,348 and the death toll standing at 163 to date.
As a result, the annual Boxing Day and New Year’s Day Junkanoo parades, and all parades normally hosted on the Family Islands, have been put on hold, because current factors indicate that “the environment is neither safe or conducive for the preparation or hosting of the annual Junkanoo parades”.
A statement from the ministry pointed to the advice given by the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in October, classifying Junkanoo preparation and parades as “superspreader events” and advising that the EOC “neither supports nor endorses” the hosting of Junkanoo events.
“The decision to postpone this year’s Junkanoo parades is made out of an abundance of caution,” it said.
The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture together with the Office of the Prime Minister had made substantial efforts to consider viable alternatives for the hosting of the parades in alternative forms, according to the statement, including a “Virtual Platform” that would have required smaller numbers.
The ministry indicated, however, that due to the recent exponential increase in cases and clusters that sporadically appear throughout the country, “it is evident that the Ministry of Health’s advice is based on the empirical data and made in an effort to protect the members of the public”.
“While the decision is a difficult one, the government of The Bahamas has an overriding responsibility to ensure the health and safety of the people of The Bahamas,” the statement added.
“Based on the Emergency Powers Orders, the resumption of parades will be subject to the guidance of the Ministry of Health.”
Novel coronavirus cases have been reported on all the major islands including New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera, Andros, the Berry Islands, Bimini and Cat Cay, Exuma, Inagua, Long Island, Cat Island, Acklins, Crooked Island and Mayaguana.