Nfld. & Labrador

Regatta holiday on a Monday? COVID-19 really has changed everything

There will be no races this year, but there will be still be a holiday — just on another day of the week.

Public holiday this year will align with civic holidays across Canada

Mayor Danny Breen says a Monday holiday in August will be a one-time event for St. John's. (Stephen Miller/CBC)

There will be no races at the Royal St. John's Regatta this year, but St. John's residents will still get a public holiday — just not on the day they're used to.

"We'll be observing it on the first Monday in August," said St. John's Mayor Danny Breen, commenting on a change city council is making in the wake of the cancellation of the regatta because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

That means the holiday this year will be celebrated on Monday, Aug. 3. 

The Royal St. John's Regatta is held — weather depending — on the first Wednesday in August. Once declared, it is a civic holiday in St. John's.

The committee running the sporting event, which draws tens of thousands of spectators to the banks of Quidi Vidi Lake, announced the cancellation last week. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said summer festivals cannot be held this year because of the risk of coronavirus transmission.

This year marks the first time since 1940 the regatta is being suspended. On that occasion, the Second World War was underway, although races resumed the following year.

Breen said the decision would be sent to Municipal Affairs Minister Derrick Bragg for ratification, although the decision evidently falls to the Department of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour. 

"We are certainly open to the City of St. John's changing the date of the Regatta Day holiday for this year only, given the circumstances, but we will need to review to determine what is required for such change to be made," that department said in a statement to CBC News. 

Breen said the city does not expect any difficulty with the approval. 

The Royal St. John's Regatta is a Canadian rarity: it is a public holiday that depends on the weather. (St. John's Regatta/Twitter)

If approved, the holiday in St. John's will align with the August civic holiday marked in many jurisdictions across Canada. 

Breen added this will be a one-time change.

Reaction to the Monday holiday varied on social media Wednesday. 

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