It’s Cup Match time Bermuda!

2020 will be remembered as the year of change. We have been through shelter-in-place, alphabet shopping and curfews. As a community we determined early to learn from the mistakes made elsewhere and shield our most vulnerable and comply with public health advice designed to ensure that we protected Bermuda against COVID-19.

But the change that 2020 has brought cannot and will not deprive Bermuda of the Cup Match spirit.

There is a unique feeling in the air at this time of year and it is a mixture of friendly but fierce rivalry between the red and blue and the blue and blue and the prospect of a four-day weekend of good food, fun and fellowship.

With the exception of the classic cricket match, this year can still feature all of those things – just done differently.

Personally, like thousands of Bermudians, I am disappointed that we cannot be at Somerset Cricket Club for the first ball, making our way around the ground visiting the camps and joining the families and friends who year after year make it their business to staunchly support their team.

But that disappointment is tempered by thankfulness. We still have much to celebrate. People are returning to work, there is more economic activity and we continue to meet the challenge of managing the pandemic response so that our healthcare system is not overwhelmed.

This holiday is about freedom. The emancipation of Black people from slavery is the core of this celebration and that dark period of Bermuda’s and the world’s history still casts its shadow today.

The toil of those years which built the wealth of so many nations remains an open wound that time is still trying to heal.

Usually at this time of year we give a passing thought to those who must work during this holiday to keep our services operating. Scores of people are ordinarily occupied in public transport and in other areas supporting our tourism industry; but 2020 is different.

This year, however, there is an army of women and men on the front line of healthcare in this pandemic response who have more than earned our thanks and deepest gratitude. We celebrate them and their families who have sacrificed so much for all of us.

2020 has seen some positive change too. A woman of colour named Mary Prince, a National Hero, is commemorated now with the second day of this Cup Match holiday named for her.

Her defining narrative, revealing the harsh injustices endured by Black people in Bermuda in the early 1800s formed a critical contribution to the movement for the abolition of slavery.

This Cup Match holiday, I encourage everyone to pause and reflect on Emancipation and all that the holiday represents to Bermuda.

It is so important for us to remember that COVID-19 remains a threat and so while we have done well, we must still wear our masks, exercise proper hand hygiene and physical distancing, especially with those from other households.

Celebrate and enjoy this holiday responsibly and safely. My family, my Cabinet and Caucus Colleagues remain grateful for your kind words, prayers and messages of support.

Happy Cup Match Bermuda.