The decision to allow businesses to open on December 31 and January 1 (see related story) will not please everyone. In particular churches have traditionally objected to deviating from the customary mandatory shop closures on Christmas Day, Good Friday and – to a lesser extent – New Year’s Day.
There is also reported concern among private sector unions, because apart from civil servants getting December 24 and 31 off, labourers received no official compensation for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day all falling in the weekend this year, when many are already off.
Keep in mind that working on public holidays is purely voluntary and requires additional pay. Some suggest employees who refuse when asked might face reprisals, but they are protected by law.
The exemption of bar/restaurants, bakeries, pharmacies, gas stations, etcetera, along with stores in the resorts, harbour and airport has in any case significantly reduced the effectiveness of such a closure. There were even related court cases based on the equality principle in the past.
Let’s face it, the COVID-19 crisis can still very much be felt and employers as well as their personnel often continue struggling to make ends meet, especially since both payroll and income support ended per October 1. The dominant hospitality industry is only now recovering in earnest after 18 months at a practical standstill.
This is the height of the stayover and cruise tourism season, with weekend homeporting and Saturday also the busiest day in terms of flights. Under these circumstances, more people than usual might welcome the chance to make an extra buck.