Speech

As a child, I so look forward to Christmas and I am certain that many Jamaican children are looking forward to Christmas, to grand market, to the toys, and the gifts that they will get. To see their relatives, their grandparents, to the family gatherings, but this Christmas season we will not be able to celebrate as we usually do and as we are accustom to.  We will celebrate however the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We will together as families come together to reflect on the Christmas season and to reflect on the year passed and to put our prayers and hope towards a better 2021.

2020 has been a difficult year for us, however, we have worked very hard and in many instances we have overcome and we have been successful.

As we celebrate during this pandemic thou muted, let us remember that there is still much for which to give God thanks and still much work to be done.

This Christmas, I want to acknowledge and thank our public health workers and front-line responders who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe. They continue to do an outstanding job in extremely difficult and trying circumstances heightened by the pandemic.  We owe them a debt of gratitude.

With significant breakthroughs in treatment, testing and vaccines, give us hope and optimism but even so we should not become complacency.

Jamaica is a participating country in the global COVAX Facility under which we have equal access to vaccines once they are developed.  We will not immediately have enough vaccines for every Jamaican to be immunized. We will therefore need to prioritize access through fair and transparent criteria to focus on front line workers first and most vulnerable population. However, all Jamaicans who want the vaccine will be able to access it free of cost when it becomes widely available.

In the meantime, we must continue to be vigilant and compliant.

The virus is not taking a break for Christmas and celebrating the season in the way we are accustomed, means putting the lives of Grandma and Grandpa at risk, increasing the possibility of our children not going back to school in January.

This Christmas, I strongly recommend that we stay at home with our family members and immediate household.

Let us use our creativity to make the new normal of seeing our relatives and friends online or by telephone a special occasion. For those who have recently travelled, please observe strictly the quarantine restrictions and keep away from vulnerable groups, particularly your elderly family members and persons with comorbidities.

Let us not drop the baton this Christmas on what is hopefully the last leg of this long ordeal.  We are a resilient people and I have absolute confidence that we will overcome.

On behalf of the entire Government, and from my family to yours, I wish you a peaceful and reflective season.

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year when it comes!

God bless Jamaica, our Home Sweet Home.

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