2020 has proved to be extremely challenging for everyone due to COVID-19.
Over the last nine months, residents have had to juggle home schooling, working from home, job losses, being furloughed, illness, worries and anxiety – to name just a few – while our local businesses have had to close, adapt and operate with a host of new safety measures in place.
As we prepare to come out of a national lockdown, arrangements can now be made to spend time with family over the festive period. But it’s important to remember that this won’t be a normal Christmas and things haven’t gone back to normal as the virus is still spreading in our communities.
The Government has agreed with the other nations of the UK (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) a set of Christmas ‘rules’ to ensure a consistent approach for people to follow. They have announced that during a five-day period from 23 to 27 December:
- you can form an exclusive ‘Christmas bubble’ composed of people from no more than three households
- you can only be in one Christmas bubble
- you cannot change your Christmas bubble
- you can travel between tiers and UK nations for the purposes of meeting your Christmas bubble
- you can only meet your Christmas bubble in private homes or in your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
- you can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier where you are staying
- you cannot meet someone in a private dwelling who is not part of your household or Christmas bubble
- people who are self isolating should not join a Christmas bubble.
In addition, when meeting your Christmas bubble you should take these measures to prevent the spread of the virus:
- wash your hands frequently
- clean touch points regularly, such as door handles and surfaces
If you are only visiting someone for a short time, you should:
- keep socially distanced from anybody you do not live with as much as possible
- make sure you let as much fresh air in as you can during a visit and after visitors have left, without getting cold, by opening windows and doors
When following these new rules, we must each continue to take personal responsibility to limit the spread of the virus and protect our loved ones, particularly if they are vulnerable. The full restrictions regarding Christmas arrangements can be found on the Government’s website.
Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure, Libraries and Heritage, said:
“Everyone one of us, from residents and local businesses to key workers and essential services, has made sacrifices this year, experienced hardship and uncertainty, and done great work over the last few months to bring COVID-19 rates down in St Helens Borough.
“And while we are all hoping to return to some form of normality over Christmas where the Government’s relaxing of rules allows, we must be sensible, and ensure that our rates don’t increase again, risking further tightening of restrictions imposed on us.
“This deadly virus is easily transmitted from person to person. I know how hard it has been for family and friends who haven’t been able to see each other this year, but please use caution, play your part, follow the rules and enjoy the festivities safely.”