Hew: Too late to change music law for New Year’s Eve

There is no mechanism or “nuclear option” to make a change to the Music and Dance (Control) Law this close to New Year’s Eve, according to Commerce Minister Joey Hew.

The law prohibits loud live music and dancing on Sundays, and with New Year’s Eve falling on a Sunday this year, this means parties planned for the night are being curtailed.

Mr. Hew said that the government has gone through the law line by line to see if there was an opportunity to change it before ultimately deciding that it was impossible.

Furthermore, said Mr. Hew, there has been no request from the Cayman Islands Tourism Association to look into making a change. If there’s still an appetite to change the law at some point in the future, he said, it can be considered alongside other needed revisions in the government’s liquor laws.

“The idea isn’t being against dancing. It’s against having music so loud that it creates the environment for dancing on a Sunday,” he said. “Government creates policy, but it’s generally driven by the private sector or by the constituents.”

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Meanwhile, the Cayman Ministers’ Association is backing the prohibition.

Torrance Bobb, the chairman of the Cayman Ministers’ Association, said Thursday that the laws are on the books to reflect the community’s traditional religious beliefs. New Year’s Eve may not often fall on a Sunday, said Pastor Bobb, but when it does, the law should still take precedence over business concerns.

“Christmas really celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ coming into the world to save us from sin,” said Pastor Bobb of the significance of the holiday season. “While it’s true that God gives people the right to conduct their lives as they please – because we are free-will moral agents – I think that at this Christmastime, it wouldn’t be advisable for the law to be changed or to accommodate that situation.”

RELATED STORY: No dancing or music allowed in Cayman on New Year’s Eve 

RELATED EDITORIAL: New Year’s Eve music ban must be overturned 

The Music and Dance (Control) Law dictates that venues that sell food or refreshments are prohibited from having dancing or playing music on Good Friday, Christmas Day and Sundays. This year, both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve fall on a Sunday, affecting the plans of several local businesses.

As the law stands, many local bars and restaurants will be forced to wait until 12:01 a.m. on New Year’s Day to start their live entertainment. The 40-year-old law provides an exemption for hotels, but only properties that “are not open to the general public and with which no charge is made for admission.”

Pastor Bob said the law is on the books for a reason and this is the perfect time of year to honor it.

“We are celebrating the birth of Christ, and while it’s true that many people celebrate differently, the Cayman Islands are known mostly as a Christian community,” he said. “We say he has founded it upon the seas, and I think if there’s any time we should not be changing laws, it should be Christmastime. We are still in the spirit of the season, and I think it would be good for them to hold to the status quo.”

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  1. New Years Eve is not on Christmas day but almost a week later. And if these islands SHOULD ban dancing a week later for this reason then it surely should ban it every day, every year for a week after Christmas.
    Whereas you can, by law, dance on Christmas day, Boxing day and every day after that provided they don’t fall on a Sunday.

    Furthermore the birth of Christ should surely be a celebration that, by biblical tradition, would be celebrated by music and dancing.

    In any event most of the visitors to this island, especially those who originally planned to go elsewhere, will expect and want to bring in the New Year with music and dancing.

    Disappoint them and they will go elsewhere next year. What a wonderful opportunity to boost our tourism industry for years to come.

    Religious police belong in Iran.

    • Spot on Norman, I think that’s stated in bible that it was a big celebration of food and wine and dancing to celebrate the berth of Jesus . Then Mr Hew don’t tell us that it is too late , what happened to the Governor and Alden pens they ran out of ink at Christmas or all their powers diminishes at Christmas

      • Which Bible have you read Mr Ebanks?

        According to the scriptures, when Jesus was born his family fled to Egypt in fear of the child’s life and there was no ‘celebration’ of the Birth, The ‘celebration’ was confined to the shepherds spreading the word of what they had seen and the Magi bringing gifts. (Matthew’s Gospel).

        Most of the celebrations we see today have no basis in the Christian Litany and are more likely akin to the celebration of midwinter’s day which sees the end of shortening days and lengthening nights. The Scandinavians called this ‘Yule’ (hence, Yultide) and was celebrated on the winter solstice (21st December).

        Finally, the celebration of Christmas was really cemented, in the English Speaking world, in the Victorian age when the influences of the germanic speaking nations (thanks to Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert) but it remained, at heart, a sombre and quiet celebration for families to reaffirm their commitment to Christ as their saviour. Indeed, today, the British Royal family attend Church at Sandrigham on Christmas morning before a family luncheon.

        So, all this drinking and dancing is nothing to do with Christmas and can be done at any time of the year.

        On Monday, go to Church and feel the warmth of faith.