Should household mixing be allowed over Christmas?
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
MPs across the region have called for families to be cautious this Christmas amid fears a relaxation in household mixing rules could lead to a spike in coronavirus cases.
Under plans laid out by the government, up to three households will be able to mix indoors from December 23 to December 27.
The BMJ and Health Service Journal warned an easing of restrictions would "cost many lives", while the British Medical Association (BMA) has called for an urgent rethink.
In a recent poll by this newspaper, 66% of more than 1,000 readers said they believe the Christmas relaxation rules should be scrapped.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick however has said the government is set to go ahead with its plans.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter, who has been working on the frontline against the virus, said he fears about people with the virus who are asymptomatic unknowingly spreading the virus to loved ones.
Dr Poulter said: “People are going to have to make their own minds and weigh up the risks involved.
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"People will want to see family at Christmas but it may be that we have to continue to do that in slightly different ways this Christmas compared to what we’re used to and what we’d like to do. I understand that isn’t ideal for everybody.
“If people have got the luxury of being able to self-quarantine for seven days or ideally two weeks before they see family that’s the perfect scenario, but that isn’t going to be available for everyone.
“Perhaps, if people are going to see family, maybe only seeing their closest relatives rather than having larger gatherings or widespread mingling over Christmas, that’s probably the best way of controlling the spread.
“As a doctor, I am very worried about this and I am expecting to see a spike of infections after the Christmas period.
"That worries me, medically, but again people have been living with this for the best part of a year now, they are going to want to see people over Christmas.
"So long as they do that with their eyes open and they do their best to minimise risk, it’s an individual choice and it’s about weighing it up.”
On Tuesday, Suffolk public health director Stuart Keeble said that although mixing may be allowed, it doesn't mean people should do it.
His words were echoed by Colchester MP Will Quince, who said it is "really important" people minimise contact where possible.
Mr Quince said: "If you are going to, within the rules, meet other people as part of the Christmas bubble then wherever possible try and limit your contact with other people in the run up to that as much as possible so as to minimise the risk of you catching Covid or passing it on to your loved ones.
"Just because something is within the rules, it doesn't mean you have to do it."
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said the government should make a decision based on the latest data available.
In an address this evening evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to have a 'smaller' and 'shorter' Christmas celebration as it would be safer.
He has advised reducing the number of people coming into contact in the five days leading up to Christmas and to even delay seeing older, or more vulnerable, relatives until they have been vaccinated.
It is also recommended people do not travel to and from areas with higher rates and not to stay overnight if possible.