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Newark and Sherwood residents urged to enjoy Christmas safely within the coronavirus restrictions

People are being urged to enjoy Christmas ­— but safely and within the coronavirus restrictions.

The restrictions are being eased for five days ­— December 23-27 ­— to allow families to spend the festive season together.

Under current proposals, three households can form a Christmas bubble, which would allow them to meet during those days.

A woman walks past a Christmas display in a shop window.
A woman walks past a Christmas display in a shop window.

There had been fears that the government would u-turn on the Christmas bubble proposal following a rise in cases nationally, but the reduction in restrictions is still going ahead.

However, people are being urged to be cautious.

Newark MP Robert Jenrick told Sky News yesterday (Wednesday) that Easter could be the new Christmas for some people.

Mr Jenrick used the rise in infections in the US following the Thanksgiving holiday as an example of how meeting up will have consequences.

Robert Jenrick. Credit: Number 10. (43492305)
Robert Jenrick. Credit: Number 10. (43492305)

He said: "This is a virus that thrives on social interaction. So bringing more people together, even for this relatively short period of time, is not cost free.

"It will have consequences in terms of increasing the rate of infection.

"But these are the sorts of judgements that people need to weigh up — how much do they want to bring members of their broader family together at Christmas. Or whether they think, on this occasion, let's just keep it small and we can meet up in the spring.

"Easter can be the new Christmas for some people."

The director of Public Health Nottinghamshire, Jonathan Gribbin, also warned families to think carefully about who they mix with.

News graphic template (43585632)
News graphic template (43585632)

He said: “We are now well into our advent calendars and Christmas is fast approaching us.

“It has been a difficult year for everyone and we deserve to get into the festive spirit this year.

“We all know that this Christmas will be different to usual, with the risk of coronavirus still circulating in our communities.

“In addition to the local tier rules we must follow, the government has allowed Christmas bubbles so that you can meet up with friends and family over the festive period.

“When forming a Christmas bubble and meeting with friends and family during this window, please be mindful of the risks to everyone, particularly those who are vulnerable.

Christmas stock. (43612073)
Christmas stock. (43612073)

“I urge everyone to be sensible and stay safe during this period, and throughout the festive month.”

Between December 23 and 27, up to three households in a Christmas bubble can mix indoors and stay overnight.

Bubbles are allowed to meet in each other’s homes, at a place of worship and in an outdoor public space or garden. You cannot mix in hospitality settings, such as pubs and restaurants, or at entertainment venues.

However, the bubbles will be fixed. This means you cannot mix with two households on Christmas Day and two different ones on Boxing Day.

Coronavirus at Christmas. (43611958)
Coronavirus at Christmas. (43611958)

Households in your Christmas bubble cannot form a bubble with anyone else.

In England, if you have formed a support bubble with another household, that counts as one household and you can join with two other households in a Christmas bubble.

The maximum number of people allowed in a Christmas bubble has not been specified in England, but the government has said it should be as small as possible.

In Scotland, it should have a maximum of eight people, not including under-12s.

Travel restrictions will be lifted to allow people to visit their bubble anywhere in the UK.

Passenger on the train using cell phone on the train. Woman wears protective mask against the spread of CoronaVirus. (42529048)
Passenger on the train using cell phone on the train. Woman wears protective mask against the spread of CoronaVirus. (42529048)

People self-isolating should not join a Christmas bubble. If someone tests positive, or develops coronavirus symptoms in the 48 hours after the Christmas bubble last met, everyone will need to self-isolate.

Christmas traditions, including visiting a socially-distanced Santa’s grotto in a venue allowed to open, can still go ahead and door-to-door carol singing is allowed in groups up to six.

Mr Gribbin said: “Wishing everyone in Nottinghamshire a safe and merry Christmas. If we all continue to follow the guidance alongside supporting the vaccine roll-out, then we can look forward to a time where we can enjoy some relaxation of the current restrictions.

“With that in mind, let me also wish you a very happy 2021.”

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