Health and Wellbeing

Just because we can doesn’t mean we must. Public Health Devon asks ‘is your trip essential?’

close up photograph of a Christmas tree with a bauble

Posted on: 16 December 2020

Public Health Devon is joining the call for caution, as families plan their Christmas breaks between the 23 and 27 December.

The government has said that the tier restrictions will be relaxed during that period to allow Christmas bubbles – up to three families – to meet indoors.

But public health experts are urging caution, because of the risk that meeting face to face with others will cause, especially to older and vulnerable people.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon (Designate)

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon (Designate)

Steve Brown, the Director of Public Health Devon (Designate), said:

“With more of the country now assigned to the highest level, Tier 3 restrictions, there is even more of a case now for people to think hard about their plans for Christmas.

“I urge people to consider whether their journeys to visit others this Christmas are necessary, or for this year at least, they stay at home in order to minimise risk.

“Undoubtedly, groups of people getting together, especially indoors, increases the risk of the virus spreading.

“If we are not all very careful, there will be a very high price to pay in January, if case numbers rise again.

“If you are planning to visit others, or others are planning to visit you, please consider the risk, especially to older and vulnerable people.”

• Is your visit necessary this Christmas? Could it be postponed to later in the new year?
• If you have to visit, or people are visiting you, can you stagger it to avoid lots of you sharing the same space for a long time, or arrange to see people but for a shorter period?
• What can you do to minimise risk to yourselves and others? For example, can you try to be outdoors more. Remember, being outdoors is better than being indoors. But if you do meet indoors open the window to allow ventilation, avoid sharing cutlery and try and avoid close contact with people outside your household.
• Are hugs appropriate during a pandemic? Probably not. So why risk it, especially for people who are already most at risk.

“Just because the government is relaxing the restrictions for that period, doesn’t mean that we have to take the risk ourselves,” said Steve Brown.

“For anyone who is expecting visitors, and really they’d rather avoid the risk this year, please do have the courage to say so.

“Throughout this pandemic, Devon has done reasonably well in keeping case numbers down, and below the national averages.

“We do not want to see case numbers rising in January. These are not just abstract numbers. Rising cases will mean more excess deaths due to coronavirus.

“So just because we can, doesn’t mean we must. Without wanting to sound like the ‘Grinch who stole Christmas’, this year is going to be different, so please consider your plans and do what you know is right in order to minimise risk, protect yourselves and loved ones from the spread of coronavirus.”

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