WEDNESDAY, FEB. 29: Cruise passengers arriving in St George’s on April 6 could disembark into a ghost town, as all the shops will be shut for Easter Friday.

The Azamara Journey is scheduled to arrive in Hamilton on April 5 from the British Virgin Islands and then move to the East End the next morning for the day.

But all retailers will be closed because it is illegal for them to open on Easter Friday.

The Celebrity Cruise Lines ship is one of just five liners that will stop in St George’s in 2012.

Tourism Minister, Wayne Furbert, said he was ‘sympathetic’ to their plight, but maintained there was nothing he can do.

He said: “The law states that shops can not open on Easter Friday and Christmas Day.

“It has been that way for a very long time. I would have to consult more broadly before giving my views of whether this law should change.

“Easter Friday is a very important day to this community.”

Mayor of St George’s, Kenny Bascome told the Sun: “It is very unfortunate that this has taken place. In this economic climate it might be possible for the Corporation to have a meeting with the business community and find out what they think can be done.

“I understand that most people would want to be with their family on Easter Friday and I would not want anyone to go against their religious beliefs.”

Restaurants, museums and gas stations are allowed to be open on Easter Friday, but shops including The Island Shop in St George’s will be closed.

Tour operators can also still operate, but the Crystal Caves as well as the Bermuda Perfumery will also be shut on Easter Friday.

Cheryl Hayward-Chew, the chairperson of the East End Division of the Chamber of Commerce, added: “I know there have been talks ongoing with government since this happened last year about changing the rules so businesses can open.

“But we are waiting on confirmation of any decision at the moment.

“If the answer is no it will be very frustrating, but if it is yes then we will do our best to get everything open.”

Frustrating

One St George’s shop manager, who asked not to be named, told the Sun: “It would be lovely if we could open on Easter Friday but the simple fact is that we can not.

“Everything is going to be shut when the cruise ship arrives in St George’s and that is frustrating to say the least.

“We only have a few cruise ship calls this year and to miss out on one is very disappointing.”