Message to Staffordshire on Christmas changes as celebrations massively scaled back

Families in Staffordshire are being urged to stick to the new Christmas rules following a concerning rise in cases and a new strain of coronavirus in other parts of the country.

Speaking from Downing Street on Saturday afternoon (December 19) Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed a number of changes to the Christmas period.

This includes a severe curtailing of the Christmas bubble policy allowing up to three households to mix for just one day, on Christmas Day, instead of the initial five days planned.

The Prime Minister said the changes were made with a ‘very heavy heart’.

Now councillor Johnny McMahon, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for health, care and wellbeing, is calling  on people to be ‘extra vigilant’.

His plea comes as the number of Covid-19 cases in Staffordshire surpassed 30,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic after an additional 352 positive tests in the latest 24-hour update.

Mr McMahon said: “Whilst the Prime Minister’s announcement is undoubtedly hugely disappointing to families who had hoped to see loved ones over a few days this Christmas, the scientific evidence and emergence of a new strain of virus mean we must all be extra vigilant.

“Staffordshire remains in a very high alert area and our hospitals will be under immense pressure over the next few months.

“We are urging people to have a smaller Christmas this year and restrict contact with their extended families as much as possible. This isn’t the news we wanted, but we must persevere and with the vaccine roll-out there is now light at the end of the tunnel.”

Elsewhere, Christmas has effectively been cancelled completely for the millions of people across London and the south east of England, with the introduction of new Tier 4 measures.

From Sunday, areas in the south east currently in Tier 3 will be moved into a new Tier 4 with similar restrictions to the lockdown rules of November.

Non-essential shops, gyms, cinemas, hairdressers and bowling alleys will be forced to close for two weeks – while people will be restricted to meeting one other person from another household in an outdoor public space.

The decision has been spurred by the prevalence of a new strain of Covid-19 in the south east, with scientists concluding this version of the virus was spreading more quickly.

The Prime Minister was advised of the group’s conclusions at a meeting with ministers on Friday evening, and the new regulations were signed off by the Cabinet in a conference call on Saturday lunchtime.

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