The Progressives-led government believes Cayman could benefit from adopting daylight saving time, but has decided not to amend laws to allow general Sunday trading.
While giving his “State of the Nation” address at the Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon last week, Premier Alden McLaughlin introduced the topics by saying they were matters of immediate interest to the business community.
“Daylight savings time is one of those issues that has been around some time,” he said, commending the Chamber of Commerce for conducting a survey on the issue in which 55.7 percent of the 113 respondent members supported adopting daylight saving.
“The Progressives-led government is proposing a public consultation process on this matter because it is our considered judgment that both our financial and tourism sectors could benefit from the move to daylight savings time,” he said. “There are many benefits, including elimination of confusion over travel times, putting our financial industry in sync with New York, and putting an end to early arrivals and departures of cruise ships.”
Daylight saving time is the practice of turning clocks ahead one hour around the start of the spring season and then adjusting them backward an hour in the autumn. The practice is most commonly followed in industrialized northern hemisphere countries. Putting the clock ahead in the summer months maximizes daylight in the evening hours, supporting more outdoor activities after the typical workday is over.
The effect of daylight saving time in northern latitudes can be quite noticeable, with the sun setting past 9 p.m. during the mid-summer months in many places. The effect is less pronounced in middle latitudes where there is not as much seasonal difference in the length of daylight. However, several countries in the Caribbean region use daylight saving time, including Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.
Jamaica adopted daylight saving time in 1974, but discontinued it in 1983.
The Cayman Islands stays on Eastern Standard Time the entire year. When Eastern Daylight Time begins elsewhere, Cayman is an hour behind places like Miami and New York. For many years, the difference in time between Cayman and Miami lasted a little more than six months – from the first Sunday in April until the last Sunday in October. However, in 2007, the U.S. Congress lengthened daylight saving time to almost eight months, having it in effect from the second Sunday of March until the first Sunday in November.
If, after the public consultation period, the government decides to adopt daylight saving time, Mr. McLaughlin said it could come into effect as soon as 2015.
“We’re going to take a decision by the end of the year,” he said.
With regard to Sunday trading, Mr. McLaughlin said the government had decided “not to turn Sunday into a general trading day.” However, the government will “regularize trading so that the retailers currently operating in violation of the law will be made legal.”
“We heard the misgivings from the business community, church leaders and private residents who did not want a wholesale opening of Sunday sales, but we also realized that we must ensure that those who have been providing essential goods and services on Sunday are able to do so legally,” he added.
There are 20 exemptions to the Sunday Trading Law as it stands now, and Mr. McLaughlin said the government would modify the schedule of exemptions to permit corner stores and convenient stores at gas stations to open lawfully on Sunday.
When asked how “corner store” would be defined, Mr. McLaughlin said it would be along the lines of square footage, potentially for establishments that are under 2,000 square feet.
Mr. McLaughlin said the government took into consideration the results of the Chamber of Commerce survey on Sunday trading, in which 64.4 percent of 113 member respondents supported allowing all businesses the option of opening on Sunday.
However, Mr. McLaughlin said some business owners spoke out strongly against Sunday trading.
“It was really the representation of the business community that was very powerful,” he said.