No holiday to mourn Queen Elizabeth II

NO holiday is to be declared on September 18, the National Day of Mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, Information Minister Robert Morgan has advised.

“It is not a discussion or a contemplation at this time and I would have to be guided otherwise for a national holiday to be declared,” Morgan said when questioned by Leader of Opposition Business Phillip Paulwell following his statement in Parliament on Tuesday, which sought to clarify aspects of the period of mourning being observed from September 8 to 19 in Jamaica.

Paulwell had queried whether the Government would be making a decision to declare a public holiday on the day of The Queen’s funeral and the National Day of Mourning on September 18, in reference to a document tabled by Morgan which detailed what will happen during the mourning period.

Morgan explained that when an incident such as a royal death happens, there is a standard operating procedure that is a part of the protocol. Some of which are optional, and some standard. He said the Government then has to make a decision as to which aspect of the process will be adhered to “based on the context of our society and what are our imperatives”.

“This is the standard operating procedure, but the Government makes decisions over time as to which aspect it will follow, but this is a very good guide generally to members of the public and other members as to how things should be done or could be done,” he said.

In the meantime, Morgan advised that members of the public are allowed to go about their regular activities during the period of mourning. He made the declaration as he sought to “bring clarity to some concerns and confusion that may be in the public domain about the period of mourning to observe the death of Her Majesty”.

Morgan explained that mourning procedures apply largely to the Government, ministries, agencies, and departments. Accordingly, no celebratory activities should take place within the public sector during the mourning period.

“For clarity, members of the public who wish to partake in the period of mourning may choose to act with constraint during this period. However, private events are not prohibited. Citizens may go about their normal affairs,” he said.

The information minister noted that on the day of national mourning, the Government, its ministries, departments, and agencies have been asked and will take certain actions.

“By way of example, flags on public buildings are being flown at half-mast. The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) has performed a 21-gun salute and a condolence book has been opened at King’s House with members of Government, Opposition, and other dignitaries already signing. We expect that other condolence books will be opened at designated locations shortly. Tributes have been paid in the Senate and today this Honourable House undertook its own,” he said.

Morgan further noted that after Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and Prime Minister Andrew Holness return to the island after attending The Queen’s State funeral in London on September 18, they will head the official memorial service for The Queen at the St Andrew Parish Church, while the custodes and mayors will head the memorial services in the other parishes.

The Queen, who was the longest-serving monarch of the United Kingdom (UK), died at Balmoral Castle on September 8, after reigning for 70 years. She was 96 years old.

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