Key advice from Calderdale leaders issued about how to keep each other safe this Christmas
As we enter the festive period with new national COVID-19 guidelines, Calderdale Council is giving advice on how we can all make Christmas as safe and merry as possible.
With increasing cases of the Omicron variant nationally the Government implemented Plan B with possibly more restrictions being imposed in the coming weeks.
Face coverings are required by law in most indoor public places and on public transport unless people are medically exempt; people are advised to work from home if they can; and from December 15, the NHS Covid Pass is mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather.
Deborah Harkins, Calderdale Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “After another tough year, we know how much people have been looking forward to the festive period and spending time with loved ones.
“We can all enjoy ourselves and protect each other by continuing to take extra care if we choose to go out and about or meet up with friends and family.
“Throughout the pandemic, Calderdale people have been doing an incredible job of taking steps to slow the spread of COVID-19, thanks to their kindness and community spirit. It’s now even more important that we follow these measures, as Omicron is more infectious than previous strains. So let’s keep up the good work and do everything we can to look after our communities, protect health and social care services and keep our freedoms.
“The COVID booster jab appears to protect against serious illness, so if you haven’t had your booster yet and you’re eligible, please get it as soon as possible.
“Thank you, you’re making a difference.”
The Council is encouraging people to take the following steps to help protect each other, alongside the new national rules:
Get the vaccine (and booster) when you are invited, even if you’ve had COVID-19. Appointments and walk-in slots are available now across Calderdale for people to get boosters and first and second doses.
Wear a face covering when indoors in enclosed spaces.
Try to keep your distance and limit mixing with people you don’t live with.
Let plenty of fresh air in.
Take a lateral flow test before mixing with others indoors / attending any festive events.
Isolate and get a PCR test if you have symptoms that might be COVID-19.
Get the flu vaccine if you’re eligible.
Think about which festive events that involve mixing with others are the most important to you, and consider giving the others a miss this year.
If you’re travelling with friends or relatives in the car, think about opening the windows to let fresh air in (even if it’s just a couple of inches). Think about wearing a mask for the journey.
If you are going out to meet friends, why not choose a venue that isn’t too crowded and doesn’t have loud music, so people don’t have to shout in each other’s faces?
If you’re going to an event, the theatre or cinema where there are lots of people, consider delaying seeing elderly or vulnerable family members until 10 days afterwards, and consider giving hugs and kisses a miss when you do see them.
Frequent handwashing is still as important as ever, not just to prevent COVID, but other winter bugs as well.
Councillor Tim Swift, the Council’s Leader, said: “We had all hoped to end this year in a happier way, and we know the outbreak of the Omicron variant will be concerning to many, but we have seen how hope, kindness and resilience can get us through the most challenging times.
“It’s a time for increased caution, but it’s also a time to reflect on the amazing work across Calderdale to help keep the borough safe and strong.
“The winter months ahead look uncertain once again, but together we can have a safe and merry Christmas and use what we’ve learned over the past 21 months to start the new year in as positive a way as possible.”
Along with the introduction of Plan B measures, the Government also announced enhanced guidelines for care home visiting, to reduce the risk of transmission and outbreaks.
This included changes to the number of people who can regularly visit, as well as enhanced testing arrangements for visitors.
The Council continues to give advice to care homes and is supporting them to implement the new guidance. Proactive work has continued throughout the pandemic to support safe visiting practices and maintain infection prevention and control measures.
Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn, Cabinet Member for Adult Services and Wellbeing, added: “While none of us wanted to see increased rules around care home visits at Christmas, the Omicron variant makes it the best way to keep our loved ones safe.
“We are doing our bit to visit and offer boosters to all our care home residents and staff, but making sure everyone takes sensible precautions before visiting is vital.
“I’m so proud of the number of changes and safety procedures that have been implemented by care home staff this year. We can’t thank them enough and I know they will continue to work to balance family contact and residents’ safety.”
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