That Christmas this year is going to be different is something all of us are having to adjust to.
And while the relaxation of the current tier system is set to go ahead - meaning up to three households can form a ‘bubble’ with one another between 23 and 27 of December - there are set to be “stricter guidelines” put in place during this period.
For those hoping to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones, read on to see how you can make it as safe as possible.
Wear face masks
While private spaces have usually been a time of reprieve from face masks, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged us to don face masks indoors when celebrating with family members this Christmas.
In a statement released on 16 December, WHO says that Covid transmission across Europe remains “widespread and intense” and that there is a “high risk of resurgence in the first weeks and months of 2021”.
WHO continues: “It may feel awkward to wear masks and practice physical distancing when around friends and family, but doing so contributes significantly to ensuring that everyone remains safe and healthy.”
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Practice social distancing
This means no hugs, kisses or any of the usual physical niceties we may feel compelled to do when we see family members at Christmas.
WHO adds: “Indoor gatherings, even smaller ones, can be especially risky because they bring together groups of people, young and old, from different households, who may not all be adhering to the same infection prevention measures.”
Social distancing should be practiced at all times over the holiday period - even during Christmas dinner.
Professor Sian Griffith, a public health expert, told ITV that family members should be sitting as far apart from each other as possible at Christmas dinner and that one person should do the plating up.
Make sure your home has adequate ventilation
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, Christmas falls in the depths of winter which can make the idea of keeping the windows open unappealing.
Yet WHO advises keeping good ventilation throughout your home if you are gathered indoors.
It says: “Gatherings should be held outside if possible, and participants should wear masks and maintain physical distancing. If held indoors, limiting group size and ensuring good ventilation to reduce exposure risk are key.”
Serve individual snack plates
Christmas is a time for grazing but this year, instead of helping yourself to a handful of Quality Street, Professor Griffith advises having individual snack plates instead.
Griffith continues: "You don't want to have any shared plates so you may serve lunch differently because when you're passing food around, there's an increased risk that somebody might have coughed onto the spoon or the food."
Limit your bubble to one household where possible
While there has been some debate about Christmas bubbles, the rules remain that up to three households can form a ‘bubble’ between December 23 and 27 this year.
However, this is only if necessary. The government’s official advice states: “You and the other people in your Christmas bubble need to consider these risks carefully before agreeing to form a bubble. You should consider ways to celebrate Christmas in other ways, such as the use of technology and meeting outdoors, without bringing households together or travelling between different parts of the country.”
You should also carefully consider the wants of any elderly or vulnerable relatives you may be seeing as well.
WHO advises: “Vulnerable people and older friends or relatives may find it very difficult to ask loved ones to stay away physically, regardless of the anxieties or concerns they may have. Consider what others may be feeling and the difficult decisions they will be facing.”
Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to assess the safety of seeing loved ones this Christmas and, if we go ahead, we need to make sure we’re taking extra precautions on the day too.
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