The Government of The Bahamas wishes to inform the general public that the National Junkanoo Parades for the 2020/2021 Season, inclusive of the New Providence Annual Boxing Day and New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parades, and all parades normally hosted on the Family Islands have been postponed for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas until or unless it is safe for ‘group gatherings’.
The advice of the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), by memorandum dated 9th October, 2020 is that the Junkanoo preparation and parades are “super spreader events” and the EOC can “neither support nor endorse” the hosting of Junkanoo events. Due to the lingering presence of the Coronavirus throughout the islands of The Bahamas, our number of infected cases being 7,323 and death toll at 163 to date, are factors which indicate that the environment is neither safe or conducive for the preparation or hosting of the Annual Junkanoo Parades.
Coronavirus cases have been reported on all the major islands including New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera, MICAL, Andros, the Berry Islands, Bimini and Cat Cay, Exuma, Inagua, Long Island, Cat Island, Acklins, Cooked Island and Mayaguana.
The Government is working assiduously to reduce the coronavirus cases and eliminate the virus from our tranquil territory. However, this is a Pandemic, and nearly every nation of the world is taking the necessary measures to implement health protocols and safety standards to keep people safe and save lives. Hence, the decision to postpone this year’s Junkanoo Parades, is made out of an abundance of caution. Significantly, The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture together with the Office of the Prime Minister made substantial efforts to consider viable alternatives for the hosting of the native Junkanoo Parades in alternative forms including a ‘Virtual Platform’ that would have required smaller numbers. However, due to the recent exponential increase in cases and clusters that sporadically appear throughout our islands and communities, 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.
We recognize that the National Junkanoo Parades is the premiere cultural program and most supported national event in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. It provides for the ongoing celebration of the liberties the Bahamian people enjoy, the raw expression of their talents in music, song, the arts and dance; and is the most spirited event that unites Bahamians of all demographics, social class and backgrounds. Additionally, the Parades have served as a hallmark of Bahamian culture and Christmas Holiday tradition for decades, and represents an indigenous cultural display for Bahamians and tourists year around of who we are, where we came from and where we are going as a people.
Moreover, the traditional gathering sends a collective message of peace, unity and hope for the upcoming year. 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. Based on the Emergency Powers Orders, the resumption of parades will be subject to the guidance of the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, particularly, the Division of Cultural Affairs and by extension the Government of The Bahamas encourages all to stay safe by observing the Health and Safety Protocols.