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Bermuda Day change throws calendars off

Calendars that show public holidays have the wrong date for next year's Bermuda Day after it was changed from May 31 to May 24.

Government said the switch was made because tourism chiefs highlighted the advantage of the tie-in of a long weekend with the United States Memorial Day holiday.

The change was announced by John Rankin, the Governor, in the Official Gazette last week, but it came too late to change many of next year's calendars.

Fraser Hunt, the manager at Hamilton's Flying Colours gift shop, said most 2019 calendars were printed up to a year ago.

He added: “It will definitely add some confusion, but I'm sure the date will be heavily advertised and people will probably figure it out.

“We've been selling the calendars all year but you might have some people that, once they hit May and turn their calendar over, they might say, ‘What's going on here'?”

Mr Hunt said some of the calendars in his shop listed May 24 as the public holiday but others had May 31.

Shakeem Simmons, the assistant manager at the Stationery Store, checked his stock and found the later date was the one marked as the day off.

He said: “We may get some queries about it.”

An amendment to the Public Holidays Act 1947 was tabled last year which changed the traditional holiday to the last Friday of May.

The Progressive Labour Party government said it would cut absenteeism and reduced productivity in schools, businesses and other organisations when the celebration fell before a weekday.

This year's Bermuda Day celebrations were held on May 25.

Government House said last week that the Governor announced the recent change at the Government's request, “given that in 2019, May 24 is in fact on a Friday”.

A government spokeswoman released a statement from the Bermuda Tourism Authority which said: “Aligning the observance of Bermuda Day with the US Memorial Day weekend will make it easier for our visitors to join us out here and immerse themselves in this unique celebration of our cultures.”

Andrew Simons, at the time a One Bermuda Alliance senator, pointed out during a debate on the 2017 change that when May 24 did land on a Friday, the final Friday of the month — and the holiday — would be May 31.

This was expected to mean the Bermuda Day holiday would never again be held on May 24.

Mr Simons suggested an alteration of the wording from “last” to “fourth” Friday, but the plea was ignored.

He said yesterday he had also considered the proximity to National Heroes Day, which is the third Monday in June, and its related weekend of celebrations when he made the suggestion.

He added: “It was a pretty straightforward clarification that was just ignored because nothing that they were saying was really in conflict with making it the fourth instead of the fifth.

“It was just a certain stubbornness there, maybe.”

Mr Simons said if the idea had been to put distance between the monarchy and Bermuda by a move away from the date of May 24 “that logic has been unwound by this recent move to change it back”.

Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, added: “Why couldn't have this been decided much earlier by Government?

“This last minute approach is unnecessary and indicative of a Government that not only rushes legislation through but lacks adequate forward planning.”

Bermuda Day: United Dance Productions (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published December 28, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated December 28, 2018 at 8:26 am)

Bermuda Day change throws calendars off

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