One of the most anticipated events in the country, the annual National Family Island Regatta, will not be held this year as the highly contagious COVID-19 virus continues to spread across the globe.
This would have been the 67th edition of the event considered a staple of Bahamian culture by many.
National Family Island Regatta Committee Chairman and Commodore Danny Strachan said it would be “gravely irresponsible” to host regatta this year considering the unprecedented circumstances brought on by the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
“The 2020 version of the National Family Island Regatta is canceled,” Strachan said in a statement.
“The national committee met and reviewed available options including postponement. Members concluded that this was in the best interest of our national requirement to comply with the government’s advice to curtail large social gatherings.
“The National Family Island Regatta traditionally brings together many thousands of persons in George Town, Exuma, onshore and on boats in the harbor in extremely close gatherings.
“It would be gravely irresponsible to seek to invite residents and visitors to congregate there this April, as had been planned.”
With The Bahamas having four confirmed cases of COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China, in December, the government has enacted emergency measures to encourage social distancing and prevent further spread of the highly contagious virus.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis last week ordered that a curfew be imposed across the country between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., with few exceptions.
Additionally, the order states that no one can host or attend a private party that includes any person from outside of the immediate household of the house occupant; a recreational or competitive sporting event; a wedding which hosts 10 or more people other than the bride, bridegroom, official witnesses and the marriage officer; a banquet, ball or reception; any social event; a funeral, except 10 members of the immediate family and at least one officiant and essential mortuary staff; or a meeting of a fraternal society, private or social club or civic association or organization.
Strachan expressed disappointment over the cancellation, but sought to assure would-be participants and attendees that “this too shall pass”.
“It is painful to look forward to the end of April without being able to anticipate this treasured event, the renewal of friendships and the general interactivity between Bahamians, residents and visitors of all strata of society in an exciting and joyous time that the regatta has been for almost seven decades now,” Strachan said.
“We apologize to all fans and supporters of the sport for the loss of this inclusive national event this year.”
He added, “This COVID-19 pandemic is simply too dangerous not to be awfully cautious.
“We had no choice but to cancel the competition…In this crisis, our first priority is the health of the public and our communities.”
Strachan noted that the committee intends to “host this wonderful national event April 2021 when, with God’s grace, we will have had all begun the process of restoring our communities to our usual conviviality”.
The World Health Organization recently declared COVID-19 a pandemic and that Europe is now the epicenter of the disease.
According to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, there are over 300,000 confirmed cases of virus around the world, with over 13,000 deaths.