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Sandra Grant Griffiths | A reactive state protocol delivery paradigm

Published:Tuesday | January 19, 2021 | 12:07 AM
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen (right) invites guests to stand after the presentation of the instrument of appointment to Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the swearing-in ceremony at King’s House in September last year. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pa
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen (right) invites guests to stand after the presentation of the instrument of appointment to Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the swearing-in ceremony at King’s House in September last year. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a re-examination of how protocols are adhered to in a feasible mould suitable to the COVID-19 environment.
Sandra Griffiths
Sandra Griffiths

January 2021 marks a year since the acknowledged advent of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its persistent propagation across the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the parameters of global governance, domestically and universally, and response patterns, some more effective than others, have emerged as we strive to produce the necessary counteracting ‘antibodies’ – literally and figuratively.

Without doubt, COVID-19 has destroyed lives, disrupted economies and livelihood. It has influenced election outcomes, affecting social, political and economic power shifts both within and among countries. What remains to be seen is the degree of permanence with which the emergent trends will be sustained or adapted.

For Jamaica, as for the rest of the Caribbean and the world, we have of necessity embraced some of the seismic changes in communication and service promotion. As the crisis enters a new phase in 2021, government officials and other leading civil society thinkers continue to weigh in with policy projections for the evolving and post-pandemic environment.

Observers would have noted significant adjustments during 2020, dictated for the most part by the status of the prevailing health and public safety protocols, in keeping with the Disaster Risk Management Enforcement public orders. These policy directives were issued under the aegis of the Government via the Ministry of Health and Wellness and other critical ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), with the policy announcements amplified from the Office of the Prime Minister. The pronouncements were informed by universal standards issued by international and regional health authorities such as World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, and took note also of regulatory action and developments initiated by our bilateral partners throughout the global community.

Protocol and etiquette arrangements are not isolated, in as much as the agenda for these supportive operational areas impact the delivery of national and state ceremonial programmes and activities. The most visible of these activities customarily involve the planning and delivery of national honours and award ceremonies that recognise significant public service and contribution to national development in a cross section of areas of endeavour – saluting positively and publicly the architects and builders of community and country.


Importantly, each award programme, as traditionally delivered in physical format, had to be re-examined and recast in a feasible mould suitable to the COVID-19 environment against the pre-determined order of annual calendar presentation. Not exhaustively, the list for review included the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Education; the National Honours & Awards (Civil Awards); and Jamaica Civil Service Long Service Awards ceremonies, together with the commemorative Independence and relevant national activities of the Ministry of Culture, Gender Entertainment & Sport, as well as occasions for official memorials. There were also the ad hoc swearing-in ceremonies for the installation of the prime minister, the members of the executive, and the judiciary, as executed at King’s House, and for the new Parliament.

The Chancery & Protocol Division of the Office of the Prime Minister remains appreciative of the patience and cooperation of our discerning national award recipients for their anticipation and acceptance of revised formats and new strictures that, in some instances, would have appeared inimical to their sheer enjoyment of occasion and special recognition in a traditional manner. We are also grateful for the collaboration of our broad MDA Inter-Ministerial Planning Committee partners that made the several modified presentations successful. We take the opportunity to single out for mention, King’s House, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ministry of Health and Wellness, Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Jamaica Defence Force, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and the Jamaica Information Service.

Together, we made groundbreaking adjustments for the delivery of our national awards programme and commemorative activities on virtual platforms, print media platforms and public broadcast platforms within a framework hitherto unprecedented, and in so doing, created prospects for adaptation and adoption going forward.

In the era where the prescribed mantra must be public-sector transformation and service excellence, albeit with the degree of flexibility and resourcefulness required to perform the tasks in the context of the rules of accountability and responsibility, the state protocol and official etiquette deliverables continued to be executed. Throughout, we received effective support from colleagues at the Office of the Prime Minister and the Office of the Cabinet, public-sector MDA partners, private-sector commercial and media partners, and the cohort of our worthy awards recipients. Most importantly, we will continue to strive to demonstrate and locate the delivery of programmes and activities under the work ethic of a performance-oriented culture, being mindful of the need to employ such best practices from the 2020 experience that will sustain collaborative efforts.

Ambassador Sandra Grant Griffiths is chief of state protocol and secretary general of the Chancery of the Orders of the Societies of Honour at Office of the Prime Minister. Send feedback to