Referendum Day has been officially declared a holiday.
The 19 Dec. date was gazetted this week and will facilitate the vote on government’s $200 million cruise berthing and cargo port facility, which Premier Alden McLaughlin announced last week.
Governor Martyn Roper, using his powers under the Public Holidays Law (2007 Revision), issued the order to proclaim the official holiday for the historic people-initiated referendum.
The public holiday order outlined that, for this year only, “for the purposes of holding a referendum on the matter of whether the Islands should continue to move forward with the building of the cruise berthing and enhanced cargo port facility, 19th December shall be a Public General Holiday”.
While Referendum Day will be a public holiday, licensed bars and similar establishments will be permitted to remain open to minimise disruption during the holiday season, according to a prior government statement.
On Wednesday, Opposition Leader Arden McLean described the 19 Dec. date as the “worst possible time” to hold the poll. He urged government to reconsider when voters will have their say on the proposed project.
Travellers heading overseas for the holidays and getting “caught up in Christmas activities” was one of the Opposition MLAs’ main concerns. However, McLaughlin told the Cayman Compass that 19 Dec. made the most sense since schools will be finishing their terms and it would have been more disruptive to hold the vote in January.
Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell has indicated that travelling electors will have the opportunity to exercise their franchise through early voting and postal ballots.
The Legislative Assembly is expected to begin its next meeting on 28 Oct., at which point legislators will start the debate on the Referendum Bill.