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Bermuda Day race and celebrations cancelled

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Cancelled plans: the 2020 Bermuda Day race and parade have been ruled out as a precaution because of the island’s failure to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Bermuda Day celebrations have been cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, yesterday said the Bermuda Day Parade and half-marathon would not go ahead on May 29 this year.Ms Foggo added: “The safety, health and wellbeing of all of Bermuda’s citizens is this government’s No 1 priority. “Out of an overwhelming abundance of caution, and following the guidance and recommendations of our health professionals, the [ministry] has made the very difficult decision to cancel these events this year.”Ms Foggo said that the government TV channel CITV would broadcast previous Heritage Month events and activities, including the Bermuda Day Parade, instead and that her ministry would try to “symbolically recognise” Heritage Month.She added: “We know this is a disappointing development, but keeping our residents safe and saving lives must be our country’s sole aim.”Richard Ambrosio, the vice-president of the Vasco Da Gama Club, said the cancellation was a disappointment, but not a surprise.Mr Ambrosio said: “When the current Covid-19 crisis first flared up, we did hold out some hope that the event was far enough into the future that it could still happen. “However, once we started seeing the number of cases being reported and the extension of stringent social-distancing measures locally and overseas, we knew it was only a matter of time. “It’s not just a question of bringing many Bermudians and visitors together for Bermuda Day — you also have to think about social-distancing in the run-up to the parade, when our volunteers would otherwise be spending a lot of time together, building and decorating the float.”He added: “The club is disappointed, but it is ultimately the right decision.Mr Ambrosio added: “The safety of our volunteers and the broader Bermuda community is paramount.”The news came as it was announced on Twitter that performers had “made the hard decision”, not to take part in the Bermuda Carnival Parade of Bands, which would have been the focal point of the festival weekend scheduled to take place from June 12 to 15.Party People Ent, Code Red and Nova Mas International said they had been “monitoring the current situation closely” and consulted with interested parties and the Government, before they made the decision.The Twitter announcement said: “This decision will also apply to our respective BC2020 signature events, Euphoria, Mimosa and Mai Tai Island.“This decision is essential for the safety and wellbeing of our masqueraders.”They added that a “costume carry forward” system would mean deposits and payments already made would be carried over to next year.The Bermuda Day Parade celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. Originally Empire Day, the holiday started as a celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday, evolved into the May 24 holiday and was renamed Bermuda Day in 1979.The final renaming and creation of a parade celebrating aspects of Bermudian culture was based on recommendations in a report by Lord [later Baron] Pitt of Hampstead’s report into the 1977 riots, sparked by the last hangings on British soil.Erskine “Buck” Burrows was executed for a series of murders, including the assassination of Sir Richard Sharples, the Governor, and Commissioner of Police George Duckett earlier in the decade.Larry Tacklyn was sentenced to death for the supermarket killings.

Bermuda Day: Warwick Gombeys (File photograph by Akil Simmons)