CAMBRIDGE City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council are issuing a joint plea to residents to do even more to reduce the spread of coronavirus over the Christmas and New Year period, even if that means cutting down the size and number of family celebrations compared with previous Christmases.
The virus is growing faster in the east of England than any other region, with an R-rate of 1.2 to 1.4. The number of cases continues to increase in Cambridge, across all parts of the city and all age groups: https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/details/cases?areaType=ltla&areaName=Cambridge
and it has become clear that the virus is now spreading through the community in a more concerning pattern than in the autumn and at an increasing pace. More infections are being seen in people of working age, with outbreaks in a range of settings.
Both councils are urging residents to mix with as few people as possible over Christmas and the New Year, including the period from 23 to 27 December during which national restrictions will be more relaxed.
While Cambridge remains in Tier 2, the councils are concerned that if the virus continues to spread rapidly, more people will become ill and the city could follow Peterborough and other parts of the UK into Tier 3 restrictions.
While the vaccine is being rolled out to the most vulnerable people, adhering to the principles of Hands-Face-Space now remains the best way of reducing the spread of the virus, cutting infections and minimising pressure on the NHS.
Older and vulnerable people remain at a particular risk and, while people can meet up with three households between 23 to 27 December, this does not mean that they should.
Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council said: “I know many people have been looking forward to meeting loved ones at Christmas, but our message, based on rapidly rising cases and the real pressure at Addenbrooke’s and other hospitals, is please, for your family’s safety rethink through your plans.
“Given the rapid rise in cases across the east of England, including Cambridgeshire, we all need to rethink plans and go for safety first for our family at Christmas. A large chicken should be enough for a family get together, so save buying the full-sized Norfolk bronze for Christmas 2021.
“Meanwhile, we continue to work hard with partners to help keep people safe and the spread of the virus down. We have our amazing Cambridge voluntary groups and volunteers to support people who need us, especially those who are most vulnerable or homeless.”
Cllr Herbert added: “If you want to help others at Christmas, please make a personal or business donation to a local homeless charity, a foodbank or Cambridge Sustainable Food. With 2,000 more people out of a job compared with last Christmas, the need to help families living below the breadline will still be a challenge through 2021 and beyond.”
Dr Liz Robin, Director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “I know that people living and working in Cambridge have worked really hard to keep the virus under control and that has led to infection rates that are lower than many other areas of the England.
“In spite of that huge effort, the rate of infection continues to increase and we have seen in recent days that the numbers are growing quickly across all age groups.
“We now need people to do even more to cut the rate of infection so I ask everyone to think carefully about their Christmas bubble arrangements between the 23 and 27 December in particular.
“While the rules allow people to form an exclusive three household bubble at that time I ask people to think about whether they should.
“While the most vulnerable people are now being vaccinated it will take time to reach everyone. In the meantime, we need to keep on following Hands-Face-Space to protect loved ones and minimise the growing pressure on the health service.”
Dr Robin advises that anyone forming a bubble over Christmas should:
- Stop unnecessary social contact outside your immediate household as soon as possible and for at least five days before you meet other households in your bubble
- Keep your bubble as small as possible, meet indoors for as short a time as possible, and avoid overnight stays unless absolutely necessary
- Remember that the safest way to celebrate Christmas this year is contacting those you don’t live with remotely - online or by phone - and the next safest is meeting up outdoors
Help for people in need, including financial support, is available – for details visit: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/updates/2020/03/18/coronavirus-changes-to-our-services
For more information on the national rules and tiers visit https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-local-restrictions