Public Holidays Act


Published: 1938-02-21

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Public Holidays Act
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS [CH.36 – 1


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[Original Service 2001] STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
CHAPTER 36

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS

SECTION

1. Short title.
2. Interpretation.
3. Public Holidays.
4. Governor-General authorized to appoint special holidays.
5. Hours of attendance of public officers.
6. Governor-General may authorize opening of shops on public holidays.
7. Customer in shop at closing hour may be served.
8. Opening of shops on Sundays.
9. Drug stores may open for certain purposes.
10. Licensed liquor premises subject to provisions of Act.
11. Penalties.
12. Recovery of penalties.


FIRST SCHEDULE — Public Holidays.
SECOND SCHEDULE — Shops which may Open on Sundays.
THIRD SCHEDULE — Shops which are Prohibited from Opening after 10 a.m. on

Sundays


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[Original Service 2001] STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS

CHAPTER 36

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
An Act relating to the closing of all public offices,

banks, and shops on Sundays and public holidays.
[Commencement 21st February, 1938]

1. This Act may be cited as the Public Holidays Act.
2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires —
“dealer” means any person selling or dealing in,

either by wholesale or retail, any goods or
articles of merchandise, and includes any clerk
or employee of such dealer;

“limits of Nassau” includes all that part of New
Providence which lies within and between the
following boundaries including such boundaries,
namely: North, the Harbour of Nassau; East,
Church Street; South, Meeting Street, and a line
drawn from the eastern end of such street
eastwardly until it reaches a line drawn from the
southern end of Church Street; and West,
Augusta Street;

“shop” includes any place of business or restaurant
within the limits of Nassau in which any goods
or articles of merchandise (other than food,
cooked or prepared for consumption on the
premises ) are sold, or kept, offered or exposed
for sale either by wholesale or retail.

3. The several days mentioned in the First
Schedule to this Act (which days are hereinafter referred to
as “public holidays”) shall be kept as close holidays in all
public offices and banks, and in all shops:

15 of 1938
19 of 1941
20 of 1954
57 of 1961
46 of 1962
2 of 1964
43 of 1964
31 of 1967
16 of 1972
11 of 1973
5 of 1987
28 of 1995

Short title.

Interpretation.

Public Holidays.
19 of 1941, s. 2.
First Schedule

CH.36 – 4] PUBLIC HOLIDAYS





STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001]

Provided that when any public holiday shall fall on a
Sunday the following day shall be observed and kept as a
public holiday:

Provided also that nothing in this section contained
shall be deemed to prohibit the opening of any shop on any
public holiday —

(a) for the sale of any drugs or medicines;
(b) for the sale of ice;
(c) for the sale of bread, fresh and frozen fish, fresh

fruit, fresh vegetables, butchers’ meat, and fresh
dairy products, until the hour of ten o’clock in
the morning;

(d) for the sale of any article required for the burial
of a dead body, or in the case of illness of any
person or animal, or in any other emergency;

(e) for the sale of petroleum products;
(f) for the sale of fresh water;
(g) for the sale of newspapers and periodicals.
4. It shall be lawful for the Governor-General —
(a) when it is made to appear to the Governor-

General in any special case that in any year it is
inexpedient that a day by this Act appointed as a
public holiday should be a public holiday, to
declare by Order to be published in the Gazette,
that such day shall not in such year be a public
holiday, and if considered necessary, to appoint
such other day as to the Governor-General may
seem fit to be a public holiday instead of such
day, and thereupon the day so appointed shall in
such year be substituted for the day so appointed
by this Act;

(b) by Order to be published in the Gazette to
appoint a special day or a part of a day to be
kept as a close holiday in all public offices and
banks, and in all shops as defined by this Act,
and every day so appointed shall as regards bills
of exchange and promissory notes be deemed to
be a public holiday for all purposes of this Act.

46 of 1962, s. 2.

Governor-
General author-
ized to appoint
special holidays.

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[Original Service 2001] STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS

5. (1) The several public offices of The Bahamas
shall be kept open for the transaction of business with the
public on every day of the year except Saturdays, Sundays
and public holidays from the hour of nine-thirty o’clock in
the morning until the hour of three o’clock in the afternoon.

(2) Public officers shall attend at their respective
offices on every day of the year except Saturdays, Sundays
and public holidays from the hour of nine o’clock in the
forenoon until the hour of five-thirty o’clock in the
afternoon:

Provided that the Governor-General may extend the
hours for the transaction of business at any public office
and may vary the hours for attendance of public officers at
their respective offices.

(3) Every public officer shall be permitted to absent
himself from his office on every day on which his
attendance is required for a period of not more than one
hour, such period to be fixed in each case by the head of
the department concerned.

(4) Nothing in this section shall affect the provision
of section 76 of the Supreme Court Act or section 36 of the
Post Office Act, or any other public office or department,
the hours of attendance at which are specially fixed by law.

6. The Governor-General may, in any special case
in which it is expedient to do so, by notice in the Gazette
authorize the carrying on of business in any shop on any
public holiday.

7. If a customer is in a shop when the same should
be closed, it shall be lawful for the dealer to serve such
customer, but no customer shall be admitted into a shop
after the hour when the same should be closed.

8. (1) Notwithstanding any other written law to the
contrary but subject to the provisions of this section —

(a) a shop of a kind mentioned in the Second
Schedule and to which the provisions of that
Schedule apply may open for business on
Sundays; and

31 of 1967, s.
2(a).

Hours of
attendance of
public officers.

31 of 1967, s.
2(b).

31 of 1967, s.
2(c).

Ch. 53.
Ch. 300.

Governor-
General may
authorize open-
ing of shops on
public holiday.
31 of 1967, s. 3.

Customer in shop
at closing hour
may be served.

Opening of shops
on Sundays.
28 of 1995, s. 2.
Second Schedule.

CH.36 – 6] PUBLIC HOLIDAYS





STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001]

(b) any other shop in the City of Nassau or in the
Port Area, as the case may be, may open for
business on any Sunday when a cruise ship is
scheduled to be in the port of Nassau or in the
port of Freeport, respectively.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) shall be construed as
authorising the opening for business of —

(a) a shop of a kind mentioned in the Third
Schedule, at any time after the hour of ten
o’clock in the forenoon of any Sunday; or

(b) any shop on Good Friday, Easter Sunday,
Labour Day, Independence Day or Christmas
Day.

(3) No employee of any shop shall be required to
work on any Sunday without that employee’s consent and,
when working on a Sunday, an employee shall be
remunerated at the rate applicable to work on a public
holiday unless that employee is in the normal course of
employment ordinarily rostered to work on Sundays.

(4) An employer who dismisses or otherwise
penalises an employee for refusing to work on a Sunday is
guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction by
a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars or by
imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or by both
such fine and imprisonment.

(5) In this section —
“cruise ship” means a vessel which —
(a) operates for not less than one hundred and twenty

days in each year, anywhere in the world;
(b) provides cruises of not less than sixty hours in

length for persons holding tickets entitling them
to travel on board the vessel; and

(c) provides on board the vessel overnight
accommodation for not less than three hundred
passengers;

“shop” includes any place of business or restaurant in
The Bahamas in which any goods or articles of merchandise
(other than food, cooked or prepared for consumption on the
premises) are sold, or kept, offered or exposed for sale either
by wholesale or retail.

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[Original Service 2001] STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS

9. Nothing in this Act contained shall be deemed to
prevent a pharmacist or chemist from opening his shop on
Sundays or public holidays for the purpose of compound-
ing any prescription or supplying any drugs or medicines
or surgical appliances.

10. Notwithstanding the provisions of the Liquor
Licences Act or any other Act, every shop or place, other
than a hotel or restaurant licensed under the said Act for
the sale of intoxicating liquor, shall be subject to the
provisions of this Act.

11. Any person who —
(a) sells, or keeps, exposes, or offers for sale, or

aids or abets any person in selling, or keeping,
exposing, or offering for sale in any shop goods
or articles of merchandise contrary to this Act;

(b) keeps open, or aids or abets any person in
keeping open any shop contrary to this Act;

(c) admits any customer, or aids or abets in
admitting any customer into any shop contrary
to this Act,

shall be liable on summary conviction for a first
offence to a penalty of two thousand five hundred dollars
and for a second or subsequent offence to a penalty of five
thousand dollars.

12. All penalties imposed by this Act shall be
recovered in a summary manner before a magistrate in the
manner prescribed by law in this behalf.

31 of 1967, s. 5.

Drug stores may
open for certain
purposes.

Licensed liquor
premises subject
to provisions of
Act.
31 of 1967, s. 6.
Ch. 372.

Penalties.

28 of 1995, s. 3.

Recovery of
penalties.

CH.36 – 8] PUBLIC HOLIDAYS





STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS [Original Service 2001]

FIRST SCHEDULE (Section 3)

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
1st of January.
Good Friday.
1st Monday after Easter.
1st Monday after Whitsunday.
Labour Day (first Friday in June).
Independence Day (10th of July).
1st Monday in August.
12th of October.
Christmas Day.
Boxing Day (26th of December).

SECOND SCHEDULE (Section 8(1)(a))

SHOPS WHICH MAY OPEN ON SUNDAYS
1. Any retail shop whose principal business is the sale of —

(a) ice, ice cream and other dairy products;
(b) bread, fresh and frozen marine products, fresh fruit, fresh

vegetables, butchers’ meat;
(c) any article required for the burial of a dead body, or in the

case of illness of any person or animal, or in any other
emergency;

(d) fresh water.
2. Any retail shop located within premises licensed as a Hotel

under the Hotels Act or located within premises operated as an
airport or a marina.

3. Any retail shop whose principal business is the sale of
Bahamian straw work, art and handicraft.

4. Any retail shop commonly regarded as a neighbourhood
store, convenience store or petty shop, and being a shop whose
principal business is the sale of grocery and personal hygiene items.

5. Premises commonly known as “service stations”.

16 of 1972, s. 2.;
11 of 1973, s. 2.

43 of 1964, Third
Sch.
57 of 1961, s. 2
11 of 1973, s. 2

28 of 1995, s. 4.

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[Original Service 2001] STATUTE LAW OF THE BAHAMAS

6. Any retail shop whose principal business is the sale of food
prepared at the request of members of the public and premises
commonly known as “fast food” restaurants.

7. Any retail shop commonly known as a “drug store” or
“pharmacy” and whose principal business is the sale of drugs,
medicines or notions or the sale of newspapers and periodicals.

8. Any retail shop whose principal business is the rearing of
plants for sale.

9. Any beauty salon or barber shop.
10. Any retail shop whose principal business is the sale of

liquefied petroleum gas, commonly known as “cooking gas”.
11. Premises commonly known as “laundromats”.
12. Any retail shop whose principal business is the sale of

clothing.
13. Premises commonly known as “photographic studios”.
14. Any retail shop whose principal business is the sale of shoes.

THIRD SCHEDULE (Section 8(2)(a))

SHOPS WHICH ARE PROHIBITED FROM OPENING AFTER
10 A.M. ON SUNDAYS

1. Any retail shop of the type generally known as or regarded
as a supermarket, if the business carried on in the shop is categorised,
in accordance with the provisions of the Business Licence Act, as a
very large business.

2. Any shop commonly known as a “membership club” or
“wholesale club”.

3. Any retail shop whose principal business is the sale of
building supplies, construction materials, electrical fixtures or
plumbing fixtures.

28 of 1995, s. 5.

Ch. 329.