Al Miller questions COVID restrictions
The Reverend Merrick 'Al' Miller, senior pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle in St Andrew, says more consideration could have been given to COVID-19 measures so churches could be able to host watch night services well into the night.
Miller, though unequivocal with his support of the government's efforts to combat the virus, holds that there is also a need for a 'rethink' of the country's approach.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness last week announced new curfew hours for the December to mid-January period. The new time will be 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily, except for the public holidays. For Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day, the curfew will commence at 7 p.m. and end at 5 a.m.
The curfew hours mean that persons must be in their homes to welcome the new year, unlike in the past when they would do so in church or at entertainment events.
"I understand the thinking of the Government because of the general thing they're trying to accomplish with COVID-19. And so one understands it within that context. I can see how they would want to run it," Miller said.
Makes any fundamental difference
"Although we understand what they're trying to achieve, I don't know if it makes any fundamental difference to the same restrictions of regular meetings."
At present, churches are allowed to have service as long as persons follow the protocols which include mask-wearing, hand sanitizing and physical distancing.
Miller reasoned that the Government may be trying to play 'fair', arguing that if the church is allowed to keep watch night services late, players in the entertainment and other spaces may deem it unfair. He, however, called for an adjustment to the overall approach taken by the Government in dealing with COVID-19.
"After nearly a year, we know more today than we knew then, but we are acting the same way today as we did a year ago. We need some different dialogue. It's not just about meeting ... it affects the issue of school. That's why the whole thing needs a rethink. I question the overall necessity," he said.
"I am supportive of the principle of what the Government is trying to do, but some things are not adding up. I respect what they are trying to do, but I don't know if it is absolutely necessary. I understand the fears and trying to just safeguard what we have."
Jamaica on Saturday recorded five COVID deaths, increasing the tally to 256. There is a total of 10,709 cases recorded in the country.