Human rights ‘might have been sacrificed’

HUMAN rights may have been sacrificed in the need to protect public health, a parish rector has said as he described his experiences during the pandemic.

Rev Mark Bond. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (30760113)
Rev Mark Bond. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (30760113)

The Rev Mark Bond, Rector of St Brelade, highlighted the isolation of those in residential care during lockdown and what he described as the ‘difficult line’ between protection and the harm that it might create.

He said: ‘It is one of the difficulties we have. How far do we protect people? We could go further but do we want to? There’s always a tendency to want to act cautiously but you’ve got to take the people with you and that’s the politicians’ job to try to find our way forward.

‘I am not 100% certain that we have not contravened human rights several times because, in the desire to protect people, you can go one step further, which is almost locking them up.

‘I’ve just been up to the prison for a visit and it was easier to get into the prison than it was to get into some of our homes, because they have got to keep access to prison for visitors but it’s not always been quite like that for residential homes.

‘Residential care did get hit hard in the early stages of the pandemic, mainly because most people were sent home from hospital and they didn’t know they were already infected.’

He also described the challenge of conducting weddings and funerals during the toughest period of restrictions, when some ceremonies were restricted to ten people.

‘It’s been hard,’ he said. ‘It’s interesting because people have said that you’ve got to watch people getting together for weddings, but at a happier occasion it is actually easier to keep people apart at, in one sense.

‘If you can’t put your arms around somebody at a funeral, that has a huge emotional impact. We’ve always been aware that we are caring for people and the restrictions are there to protect them.

‘Coming out of lockdown has been, if anything, more difficult. Going in, we all had to adapt – there was the sense, almost, as if the Occupation was beginning again, that people had to galvanise themselves – and I think we did that very well.

‘It’s actually harder now coming out, making people feel safe to want to come back. That’s about beginning the process and then doing it as slowly as we are – it’s very important not just saying the restrictions are over. We’ve tried to have a gradual change, otherwise people would be reluctant to return.’

But Mr Bond was upbeat about the church’s response to continuing its ministry during the pandemic, with virtual services and now making worship in the parish church available to a global congregation online.

‘I have had two or three people turn up to church recently who I’d not met before because they found us online,’ he said. ‘I ain’t knocking it.

‘Some people find it hard to make an initial walk through the door because they find it alien with these wonderful old buildings, but they can get a feel of us online with a certain anonymity.’

  • The Rev Mark Bond is the subject of the Saturday Interview on pages 10 and 11.

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