Residents, visitors and friends of Montserrat, it brings me great joy to extend Christmas greetings to you and your families.
My prayer for each of you, is that the Christ of Christmas will fill your homes and lives with the love which the season brings.
As we celebrate, it is important for us to remember the true meaning of Christmas. It is a time for love, charity, togetherness, worship and remembrance.
Let us therefore take the opportunity to spread love and bring joy to those around us in whatever way we can; whether this means giving a meal or donating to a charitable organisation which usually prepare meals for vulnerable persons on Christmas Day.
You may choose to spend some time with a person living alone, encouraging them with words of comfort and cheer, it would mean so much to them.
This is indeed the essence of the Christmas spirit.
I am aware that many of you would have lost loved ones during the year. For you, this Christmas will be different, there is that noticeable absence from the family table and you are not hearing that familiar voice, we share your loss and may the memory of your loved ones keep you strong during this season and beyond.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a challenge, and even more so in light of the emerging new Omicron variant, which has the potential to threaten the gains which have been made over the past months in curtailing the spread of the virus.
The research has shown that this new variant is fast becoming the dominant strain of COVID – 19 and is also more transmissible than the Delta Variant
While it is not my intention to dampen your spirit this Christmas, it is important for me to encourage all unvaccinated persons to get vaccinated now, the onus is on each of us to protect ourselves, our families, our friends, and co-workers.
On December 16th, the Ministry of Health received 1170 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, these are available to persons who indicated a preference for this type of vaccine.
Additionally, I am encouraging persons who have already received their two shots of the AstraZeneca to get their booster shot now.
God has been faithful to us in so many ways, we have had no serious out breaks of the Coronavirus and we were spared any impact from hurricanes during the Atlantic Hurricane season—We are indeed thankful for God’s mercies.
As your Government, we are committed to the advancement of this island and our people, and we will continue to work collaboratively to progress our development.
Currently, work is being undertaken to develop a new Sustainable Development Plan for the island; it is critical for all persons to have their say in the vision for Montserrat.
I therefore encourage you to participate in the public sessions when they are organised or provide your feedback to the Ministry of Finance on this very important plan.
Even as we await Montserrat’s new Sustainable Development Plan (SDP), we have been making considerable progress and completion on some key development projects.
- We have seen the completion of the resurfacing of the John A Osborne Airport Runway.
- The preliminary design stage for the new hospital has also been completed and all prequalified bids for detailed design are being evaluated. A contract for the completion of those designs will be awarded early in 2022.
- Work is also nearing completion on the construction of the Airport Control Tower and on the solar plant in Look Out.
- Work has commenced on Blocks L & M at the Montserrat Secondary School.
Indeed, as an island and as a people we have made significant strides even in the presence of a pandemic.
As we come together over the holidays with our loved ones, we should not forget that COVID-19 is still an active force to be reckoned with.
I want to take this time to remind everyone to remain vigilant and follow all protocols which have been implemented to keep us safe.
Please wear your masks and face coverings especially when in the company of persons who do not belong to your household, and practice good hygiene and sanitisation.
On behalf of the Government of Montserrat, my wife and entire family, I wish all of you a happy and safe Christmas.
May the Christ of Christmas abide with you all throughout the festive season and beyond.
Joseph E. Farrell
Premier of Montserrat