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COVID-19: Christmas parties and beach holidays

2020 has been a difficult year and many are looking forward to a break and hope to spend Christmas and New Year with family and friends. Margaret Blackie warns that it is still too soon to celebrate a normal Christmas while the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise. She argues that the truly loving response is to limit our social interactions this Christmas.

It isn’t over yet.

It’s the beginning of December, South Africa is anticipating the Christmas break. It’s been nine months of pandemic and we are tired. So many things have been sacrificed. Surely now, we can relax.  Surely now, we deserve the holiday. Surely now, we can meet with family.

Except COVID-19 numbers are rising. The Eastern Cape is already on heightened lockdown, and now the Ballito Matric Rage has been a super spreader event.

Many South Africans are used to gathering over the festive season. Some with family for Christmas lunch, some with friends on the beach on Day of Goodwill or the day after New Year. Many gather on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. This year, none of these gatherings will be safe. Multigenerational get-togethers with family and friends from different parts of the country are just not sensible.

The caring, environmentally friendly, compassionate position is to choose smaller bubbles. Pick ONE! Choose to celebrate Christmas or New Year with the one or two family members who are most likely to experience loneliness. And then be prepared to spend 7-10 days in isolation after that. (If you choose Christmas, New Year is necessarily out!)

South Africa’s numbers are growing and will likely increase substantially in the next ten days. Make plans now on the presumption that we are entering the second wave. It may not be the Christmas or New Year you wanted this year, but if we want 2021 to be a different year, restraint now will make a difference.

* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.

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