Coronavirus
JM | Nov 25, 2020

Jamaica’s proposed limit on Christmas gatherings less stringent than Spain’s

/ Our Today

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People wearing face masks wait at the terrace of the Les Quinze Nits restaurant on Real square, after Spain’s Catalonia region allowed bars, restaurants, gyms and cinemas to reopen from Monday, gradually easing some of the restrictions put in place to tackle the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Barcelona, Spain, November 23, 2020. (File Photo: REUTERS/Nacho Doce)


MADRID (Reuters)

As some Jamaicans balked at Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ proposal to limit Christmas get togethers to just 15 individuals, across the Atlantic another nation’s leader has put forward the idea that his country’s people might have to settle for less than half that number gathering for their celebrations.

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said today that his government was considering limiting Christmas celebrations to six people in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“This is not a number we have pulled out of nowhere,” Sanchez told a news conference with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte in Mallorca.

“It is a number that health professionals, scientists have told us is sufficiently rigorous and restrictive to prevent another surge in infections,” he said.

Pedro Sanchez, prime minister of Spain. (Photo: El Periodico)

The restrictions will be negotiated with regional authorities, meaning some changes could still be introduced.

In Jamaica, on the other hand, Holness was relatively more lenient as he appealed in Parliament on Tuesday for Jamaicans to be responsible in the way Christmas is celebrated this year.

“It should not be about large gatherings of family and friends but rather we should celebrate with our immediate family, with our immediate household and try to maintain 15 or less,” the Jamaican prime minister said.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness. (Photo: JIS)

Holness, in his presentation, said Cabinet had proposed amending the Disaster Risk Management Act to limit gatherings to 15 persons in private and public places.

He said the measure would be for December 2020 to mid-January 2021 to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“It is a very important distinction,” he said in reference to the inclusion of ‘private places’ in the proposal.

“In the current Order, it speaks to public places, but for the Christmas period, where we are anticipating that there will likely be gatherings, not only in public but in private places, we may very well have to make this adjustment for that period.”

The prime minister said consultations were held with the umbrella body representing local churches, a broad cross section of private-sector interests and the leader of the Opposition.

“We will also be clear with the security forces to ensure that when it is actually being enforced it is done in a way that is sensitive to people’s privacy and their property rights.”

Andrew Holness, prime minister of Jamaica

Holness said reports by international health bodies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and Pan American Health Organization, indicate that many of the ‘super spread’ events are private ones.

“Weddings, parties, funerals, receptions, these are now emerging as the spreading events and we have to be very careful. We are seeing what has happened in other jurisdictions as a result of Thanksgiving activities where families are gathered together and then of course the virus is spread through those gatherings. So, we have to be very cautious and very careful,” he said.

“We will also be clear with the security forces to ensure that when it is actually being enforced it is done in a way that is sensitive to people’s privacy and their property rights.”

Back in Spain, some regional health chiefs, including in Catalonia and Madrid, are advocating for a less stringent limit of 10 people for holiday gatherings.

While the rate of infection in Spain has slowed in the past month, its overall tally of nearly 1.6 million cases is the second highest in western Europe after France.

On Tuesday, the death toll rose by 537 to 43,668, marking the highest daily increase of the pandemic’s second wave.

In Jamaica, up to Tuesday, November 24, there had been 10,488 confirmed cases and 247 fatalities.

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