There is a high chance of spreading Covid rather than peace and joy if you don’t take the necessary precautions this Christmas.

That’s the message from Nottingham City Council’s Leader and Director of Public Health as families prepare for the festive period.

People’s plans have unfortunately had to be scrapped or changed after the Government imposed new rules at the weekend. A number of areas have been moved into Tier 4, while across England, Christmas bubbles can now only meet on Christmas Day rather than the five days proposed beforehand. There is also to be no meeting up over the New Year, including New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

As Nottingham is in Tier 3, households are allowed to see a maximum of two other households but must not see or form a bubble with anyone from a Tier 4 area. The new variant of the virus which prompted the Government’s tougher measures is more easily transmitted – meaning the advice is now to assume that anyone you meet has the virus and act accordingly.

This means observing the rules around thoroughly washing or sanitising hands regularly, wearing a face covering especially when indoors and maintaining a distance of two metres from people around you. It is also strongly advised to stay local and avoid travelling where possible.

City Council Leader, Cllr David Mellen, said: “This year has been difficult for everyone; our day-to-day lives have been dramatically disrupted, some have experienced loneliness, some have lost jobs and businesses, and, most sadly, some of us have lost loved ones. It’s been undeniably hard.

“Unfortunately this Christmas is also going to be different and difficult. It’s one of the main times of the year when we usually expect to gather together with family and friends, but sadly that activity will have to be severely curtailed if we are to protect one another from Covid.

“This is a Christmas when, to spread peace and joy to those we love and care about, we must do all we can to not spread Covid – especially among elderly and vulnerable relatives and friends. Consider carefully about not meeting others at all as this is the safest option, but if meeting, don’t forget thorough handwashing, wearing face coverings and keeping two metres apart. Make sure you’re aware of the what is and isn’t allowed through the Government guidance here.

“Thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel, a new year is coming and it brings with it new hope. Our wonderful scientific community have developed a vaccine and we all hope this gets us back to a level of normality in the near future.”

Nottingham’s Director of Public Health, Alison Challenger, said: “We know everyone has worked incredibly hard and made sacrifices to reduce the transmission of the virus and that the changes announced by the Government will have caused great dismay for many. But it is vital that everyone abides by the new rules if we are to keep our loved ones safe and rates of infection as low as possible.

“If you haven’t already adapted your plans to be in line with the new rules, you should think about doing so and about the risks particularly for those who are vulnerable. Only form a Christmas bubble if you feel you absolutely need to. Wherever possible, discuss alternatives to meeting up in person.”

Information about what is and is not allowed in Tier Three areas like Nottingham is available here

Information about forming a Christmas Bubble is available here