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Thanks from community leaders ahead of Diwali

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Community leaders have re-iterated their thanks to people of all faiths for the solidarity shown by groups in the continued fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Religious festivals such as Eid, Ramadan, Easter, Passover, Vaisakhi and Rama Navami have been observed in different ways this year due to government restrictions during Covid-19. Faith leaders have worked with their communities to help ensure religious festivals can be celebrated in a way which is safe for everyone, compliant with government restrictions, and maintains the integrity of the faiths.

People have been urged to use social media and video chats instead of meeting up in large groups – with that message continuing into this weekend with Diwali.

Diwali is the festival of lights, celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. Each religion observes different rituals and events during the festival.

Continued use of digital technology such as Zoom and Skype, used widely during religious festivals when the first lockdown restrictions were in place, are still encouraged as a good way of staying in touch and celebrating safely with family and friends.

For those planning to celebrate at home, gatherings of people from different households are banned indoors and in private gardens.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care at Dudley Council, said:

Huge sacrifices have been made in recent months, as communities have had to adapt how they celebrate different festivals and other important occasions.
Our diverse faith communities have been very active and have ensured social distancing rules continue to be supported.
We want people to be able to celebrate Diwali, but to do so safely to prevent the spread of the virus.
Gatherings at home should not breach the guidelines, and I would encourage people to continue using Zoom, Skype and other apps to stay in touch remotely during this difficult time.
The most important thing we can do is to stay alert, control the virus, and in doing so, save lives. To all those celebrating, please stay safe and Happy Diwali.

The Rt Revd Martin Gorick, the Bishop of Dudley, said:

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on faith groups is unprecedented.
I wish every blessing to all those faith groups celebrating Diwali. As Bishop of Dudley I am proud of how Christians, and our friends and neighbours from other faith communities, have worked together to follow safety guidance, while protecting the vulnerable and saving lives.

Kim Madill, Chief Superintendent, Dudley Neighbourhood Policing Unit Commander, said:

I would like to thank faith leaders and our communities for the creative ways in which they are observing religious festivals during these challenging and unprecedented times for everyone.
This reflects a strong and enduring spirit of unity across our communities.
Communities have found new ways to maintain the integrity of their faiths in a way that is safe for everyone and compliant with government restrictions.
To all those celebrating, please stay and safe and Happy Diwali.

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus and on the council’s own coronavirus pages at www.dudley.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Symptoms of Covid-19 include a fever, a new, continuous cough and loss or change to a person’s sense of taste and smell. To book a test, visit www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119.

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