Bermuda’s Gombeys were given the go ahead to perform across the island on New Year’s Day – but not without COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the announcement made last night, the island’s Gombey troupes will not stage “large performances in public places” and there will be no marches on the roads for “short, physically distanced pop-up” appearances in small neighbourhoods.

Minister of Home Affairs and Deputy Premier, Walter Roban said: “We were very pleased to receive a proposal from Bermuda’s Gombey troupes suggesting how best to accomplish what we’re all wanting – the ability to enjoy this important part of our culture in a way that is safe in the midst of this pandemic.

“We had a meeting with representatives from all five active Gombey troupes as well as the relevant government ministries of Youth, Culture and Sport, National Security and Health along with the Bermuda Police Service to fine-tune the details in a way that works for all parties.”

It was also noted that troupes will be able to perform between noon and 10pm on Friday in groups of no more than ten and spectators will have to remain 12ft from the performers, wear masks, and use social distancing.

A government spokeswoman said the rules will be enforced by marshals organised by the troupes with security staff provided by the Government.

“If the public does not adhere to these guidelines, the troupes have committed to immediately stop their performance so any crowd will disperse,” she added.

“The troupes will be moving into and out of the neighbourhoods in vehicles, rather than by foot to discourage any spectators from following.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports, Dr Ernest Peets commended the troupes involved in the discussions after the traditional Boxing Day performances were cancelled, including H&H Gombeys, Gombey Evolution, Gombey Warriors, Place’s New Generation Gombeys and the Warwick Gombey Troupe.

“This has been a difficult year for us all, and cultural practices such as Gombey performances on New Year’s Day are vital to collectively uplifting our spirits as a community,” he said.

“I am grateful to the troupes for helping to prove that there are ways, even given the restrictions around gatherings, to keep our traditions intact.”

  • Feature Photos: Courtesy of Place’s Gombeys – Facebook