The call comes after today's (Wednesday 23 December) announcement that North Somerset will move into Tier 3 from Boxing Day (Saturday 26 December).
The government has already set out the rules for how households can get together on Christmas Day but everyone is encouraged to think about the risks for their own family members and keep vulnerable relatives safe and well. The move to Tier 3 follows a recent rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in North Somerset.
Tier 3 restrictions will mean hospitality businesses will close except for takeaways, drive-throughs or delivery and indoor entertainment venues will also close. Residents must not meet people from different households anywhere indoors. People should only meet others outdoors in open public spaces in groups of up to six
As well as thinking about the risks associated with mixing with other households on Christmas Day, residents are also encouraged to think about those who may be spending Christmas alone or who are left alone due to tier restrictions in other parts of the country.
Cllr Don Davies, Leader of the Council said: “Without doubt, 2020 has been incredibly hard for many people, especially those who’ve had to isolate, who have been poorly and who have had to cope with financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Tempting though it might be to gather together with those closest to us, I would urge everyone to consider their own family circumstances and ask themselves whether it’s right for them.
“This year the best gift we can give those we love the most is the gift of health.
”I would also like to ask people to look out for those alone this year and see if there is anything they can do to support them. Could you deliver a plate of Christmas lunch to someone who may be going without or could you phone them and wish them a Happy Christmas?
"These are small things but they could make all the difference to someone else's Christmas Day."
The rules set out by government state that on Christmas Day only up to three households can form a ‘bubble’ and mix indoors. Those living in Tier 4 must stay at home and not mix with others.
Families deciding to avoid meeting face to face indoors are still being encouraged to celebrate and spend time together using the many digital options available.
Cllr Mike Bell, Deputy Leader of the Council and executive member for health said: “I want to thank all those residents and businesses who have stuck to the rules and done their bit to protect each other. Those who have not need to know that they are contributing directly to spreading the disease, risking lives and hurting our economy. We can only get through this together and that means everybody needs to do the right thing.”
Many local churches and organisations have moved festive services and events online with details of Christmas services on their websites and social media pages. Lots of communities have also gone the extra mile this year with bigger and brighter Christmas lights displays and advent calendar trails to help lift people’s spirits and get out in the fresh air.
Support is also available through the North Somerset Together network. Visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk/together for information, advice and signposting to support available for anyone affected by Covid-19.
Director for Public Health Matt Lenny said: “Christmas will be different this year, for sure, but being different doesn’t mean we should enjoy it any less. If you can get out in the open air and get some exercise you can still meet in groups of up to six which for many might feel like the safer option this Christmas.
“The risk of spreading or catching the disease outdoors is lower, and spending time outdoors is also hugely beneficial for our mental health. Many people have spent more time than usual indoors due to work pressures or periods self-isolating this year, so if you can, get out and enjoy the wonderful surroundings on our doorsteps.
“However you choose to celebrate this year, remember to keep washing your hands, covering your face if you can, and to stay at least 2m away from anyone not in your household or support bubble.
“If you decide to create a Christmas bubble, try to keep your distance as much as possible, keep surfaces clean and open up the windows when you’re inside. We know that ventilation can reduce the risk of the virus spreading in indoor settings.”