What should I do for Christmas?

Please make sure that you don’t let this family join your family for Christmas! Until we have a full vaccination programme we have not beaten this virus just suppressed it.

This is a question that I have been asked frequently lately and it’s one that I have been reluctant to answer.

Let me tell you what my family will be doing to begin with. My youngest daughter and her family will NOT be travelling for 12 hours from Scalpay in the Inner Hebrides to spend Christmas with us as they did last year. Whether flying or coming down by car with two small children will involve lots of interventions in public places which is where the biggest dangers lurk especially for people who live on an island where there hasn’t been a Covid case for months.

Erica and I will NOT be going for Christmas lunch to our other daughter who lives with her family in Wallasey. Instead they will be coming to us just for a couple of hours on Christmas Eve and where only two families who have been very careful about avoiding infection will be the only ones in the house. They will, however, still see their aunt and uncle who will come for a chat in the road.

We’ll see Jonathan and his wife on Boxing Day when again just two households of two feel very safe about coming together.

On Christmas Day Erica and will eat alone. If the weather is good, we’ll eat at her allotment. If not, we’ll eat at home. All the rest of the family will be phoned or zoomed according to a complex schedule of events!

This might sound a bit boring to some. Where’s the big event, the charades, the getting slightly tipsy and then sitting 16 round a table. This year they are all on hold!

We’ve taken the attitude after family discussions that we won’t do what the law allows but what we think is a safe and sensible thing to do. Put simply the evidence from all over the world is that family occasions which are great fun and what we would all want to do are a major source of infections. It’s not only the fact that lots of people get together in small rooms, mingle close and hug and cuddle but there are inherent dangers in moving around.

Unless people are very careful there will be people who will have a great time; then visit relatives two weeks later in hospital and bury them two weeks after that. We must all remember that even here in Liverpool we have not beaten the virus but only suppressed it. The movement of people be it students returning home or Aunty Mary coming to stay for a few days will multiply the chances of infection and increase the R rate. This is particularly true where a visitor will be coming from a higher tier than the one that you live in.

There are some thing that we can all do:-

  • Split your big events into one on Christmas Day and one on New Year’s Day. Invite everyone but not at the same time.
  • Make sure that the rooms you are in are well ventilated – not easy if it’s cold outside.
  • Wear masks whenever possible. Its not being rude to your guests to suggest that all should be masked – it’s a way of showing that you care for them.
  • Have sanitiser readily available and make a point of using it which will encourage others to do so.
  • Get out into the open as much as possible if the weather allows.

We must minimise contacts until March for two reasons:

1.         The weather gets markedly better (I hope) and we can get out more. Being in the open air is generally safer than being inside.

2.         We should be well into a vaccination programme by then in which the most vulnerable, who are the elderly and those who care for them, have been inoculated against the virus and can be much more mobile in so many ways.

Our family prize is not this Christmas but next Easter and Christmas. By doing the right things for the next 4 months we should be in a position to get back after that period to both family and big-ticket events such as theatre, religious services and sport.

So, what you do is up to you. Please just take it easy, simplify and reduce what you would normally do, and be careful.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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