Unlike previous years, when families would get together in relatively sizeable numbers for traditional Christmas celebrations, restrictions imposed by the Government to curtail the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) have, this year, resulted in persons either meeting in small groups or linking virtually.
In November, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, urged Jamaicans to celebrate Christmas responsibly and limit gatherings to immediate family members.
Additionally, he outlined several COVID-19 protocols and safeguards that would either be maintained or bolstered.
These include: adjustments in the nightly curfew times on Christmas Day, December 25, and Boxing Day, December 26, to run from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., while running from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. for the other days in December.
A number persons canvassed by JIS News shared how they planned to spend the holidays, in light of the prevailing COVID-19 scenario.
Many said they could not resist the urge to see their family members, relatives and loved ones in person, while indicating their cognizance of the need to adhere to safeguards such as physical distancing and the wearing of masks.
Kingston resident, Sheila Myrie, said she planned to journey to St. Elizabeth to see her son and his family and spend Christmas Day with them.
“That is something I would not want to miss out on, even with the pandemic happening,” she told JIS News.
Another Kingston resident, O’Brian Wynter, said he made preparations to celebrate with close friends.
He pointed out that the group, “who consider ourselves family”, have made their Yuletide get-together an annual tradition, “where we have our pixie gift exchange and Christmas dinner”.
Mr. Wynter said they also planned to link with another friend via an online/video chat platform, which many persons have been opting for to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Lloyd-Howard Smalling said he would normally have been in New York, USA, at this time of the year with his loved ones.
However, consequent on COVID-19, he would “ride out the waves” this year, and wait until a vaccine has been approved for delivery before engaging in future celebration of the season with a large number of friends and family.
“This is my first Christmas in Jamaica in a few years due to [COVID-19 restrictions on international] travel. I will be celebrating at home with food, music and some Christmas movies,” Mr. Smalling told JIS News.
Dwayne Marshall said he would be spending time with his mother, Ina Mitchell-O’Connor.
“Mom and I are celebrating our Christmas at my house. We will be staying safe by not having a big Christmas dinner with family, to ensure our family members are [also] safe during the pandemic. We also will be checking in with family and friends virtually, via video, in spreading the joy of Christmas,” he said.