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.”
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.”
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.”