Petition Allow Christmas Eve gatherings for communities that celebrate this holiday
With new Covid-19 restrictions announced on 18/12/2020, only on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, two gatherings of up to 10 people will be permitted by stricter Government guidance which disallows communities that celebrate Christmas Eve (eg Polish community). This petition is to allow this to happen.
Many communities in Jersey celebrate Christmas Eve as the main Christmas event (eg. Polish, Latvian etc). The new restrictions do NOT allow for members of those communities to celebrate together, this petition is to allow for the same restrictions that apply to Christmas Day and Boxing Day to apply to Christmas Eve.
This response was given on 29 December 2020
While an individual household can celebrate Christmas Eve, based on medical advice, and although difficult for many of us, different households should not gather. This will keep us all safer.
The Chief Minister has written to the Portuguese, Polish, and Romanian Honorary Consuls, the Chair of Caritas Jersey, and Canon Dominic Golding of St Thomas’ Church, explaining the decision on Christmas Eve restrictions.
This letter has been sent following detailed and extensive consideration of the question of gatherings over the festive period, including advice from STAC, and explains the approach of the Government of Jersey to this challenging issue.
The Letter in full:
2020 has been a difficult year for all our Island communities. Many of us have faced uncertainty, separation from loved ones, or financial difficulty. All of us have had to adjust to new ways of working and living with COVID-19.
Many of us were looking forward to Christmas as an opportunity to spend time with family and loved ones. To help Islanders do this safely, we issued revised Christmas gatherings guidance. This guidance allows for two gatherings of up to 10 people on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
This guidance means that, for all of us, Christmas will look different this year: we’ll meet with fewer people; we’ll spend less time with our loved ones; we won’t be able to attend large church services However - by doing so - each of us will be doing our part to minimise the spread of COVID-19, and keep our families, loved ones, and the Island safe.
For our Portuguese, Polish, Romanian and other communities, this guidance will mean that the traditional Christmas Eve celebrations cannot safely take place as normally envisaged. Whilst a household can still celebrate Christmas Eve, we have, on the basis of STAC advice, not been able to extend the gatherings guidance to encompass Christmas Eve. I understand that this will be a disappointment because of how important Christmas Eve is to Catholic communities. I ask these communities to join us in following the new guidance and finding new ways to celebrate the festive season.
COVID-19 means that Christmas will look different this year, for everyone. And I’d urge Islanders from all faiths and backgrounds to continue to show the resilience and flexibility that they have shown throughout the year, and find, new safer ways to celebrate Christmas this year.
I’d like to thank you for following the guidance we’ve issued so far: for changing your behaviour, for adopting new habits, and for supporting us to combat the spread of COVID-19. All of us have made sacrifices, and I'm acutely aware that by restricting Christmas Eve, I’m now asking you to make one more.
I know our Island community will cope with this adversity. I, like you, look forward to celebrating Christmas in 2021.
Senator John Le Fondré
Extract from STAC advice to Emergencies Council, 22nd December, 2020:
There will be 2 days of relaxation of household measures at the end of this week which will almost inevitably result in increased transmission of the virus.
At the end of this week there is a plan to relax household advice for 2 days. This will almost inevitably lead to an increase in transmission. It would seem unwise to then provide an environment outside of the home, in what is traditionally a busy time of the year for retail with sales, for the virus to be transmitted. This is especially the case if as described above we are now dealing with a more infectious virus. STAC were further of the view that the fewer days of relaxation of household rules the better and therefore would not support any further days especially considering Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. We are mindful of the differences between ethnic groups as to when they traditionally celebrate however whilst respecting these differences we feel that while we are advising measures that will have a significant impact on people’s livelihoods that it would be contradictory to then suggest relaxations for the purposes of socialising.
As Health and Social Services Minister, I am in full agreement with the Chief Minister in this matter. We must limit the spread of the virus, for the benefit of us all. I regret, this may require some islanders to change the way they celebrate Christmas this year.
Response from Deputy Richard Renouf, Minister for Health and Social Services
At 5,000 signatures...
At 5,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in the States Assembly