Derbyshire’s public health chief warns visiting family within Christmas bubbles may have serious consequences

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A warning has been issued over the dangers of seeing relatives in Derby and Derbyshire over Christmas and New Year.

Derbyshire’s public health chief says that visiting family within Christmas bubbles may have serious consequences for people’s health.

Dean Wallace, Derbyshire County Council’s director of public health, warned that socialising within Government rules carries a risk of causing further infections and prolonging tier 3 restrictions.

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He is advising people intending to make Christmas bubbles between December 23 to 27 to start self-isolating or reducing social contacts now to help limit the chances of either catching or passing on Covid-19.

Seeing family members at Christmas could have serious health consequencesSeeing family members at Christmas could have serious health consequences
Seeing family members at Christmas could have serious health consequences

He urged residents to consider if a Christmas meet-up is worth causing health impacts to their loved ones or stringent restrictions well into January and February.

Between December 23 and 27, households can make an exclusive bubble of three households who can meet indoors.

Households can only be in one bubble and those they share it with can not meet people from other households except under tiered restriction rules.

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For tier 3 in Derbyshire, this would mean not meeting indoors and only in public places outdoors, with a maximum of six people, with social distancing, with advice against all but essential travel.

Government advice is to keep social contact over Christmas to a minimum.

Mr Wallace told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I don’t feel it is for public health to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do in terms of their own time.

“My view is simple, the virus still exists and it is still spreading and is now increasing the rate it is spreading in our county and in our towns and people will need to consider how comfortable they are to meet their loved ones or family members who could be vulnerable and what that might mean in January.

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“That’s a decision that I can’t make for people, people need to weigh all of that up for themselves and make their own choice and if people decide they want to form these bubbles, then you need to make sure that running into that you are almost self-isolating before you do that, or limit your contacts as far as possible and try and do that as safely as you can.

“There are ways to make it safer if you have ventilated space, still try to maintain a distance and follow good hygiene, but there is nothing other than staying separate that will remove all of the risk.

“This year has been really hard and people’s mental health and wellbeing has suffered and Christmas is that time where we come together, so it is for people to make those choices.

“But they should make them knowing that the virus is still here, it is still spreading and how people might feel if, as a result of that, serious things happen and how you can live with that.

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“The key message would be that we are trying to get through this. If we can get to April and we have got the vaccines and community testing, we really are in a different place.

“I guess, do you want to trade in all the hard yards that we have done for one good party at Christmas and then be really miserable and suffer during January and February.