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There are a number of considerations for this festive season, we hope this short read will be a handy way to share with you some key health guidance in England over the festive season. What better way to start than to remind you the importance of contact. Please make sure your GP has your most up to date contact details, including your home address and, if possible, a personal email address, so that we can contact you quickly in the event that guidance changes in the future.

From 23 to 27 December, the Government will be changing some restrictions on social contact. This allows you to form a ‘Christmas bubble’ in which you can spend time indoors and outdoors with people from up to three households, including your own. You can choose to be part of a Christmas bubble if you are clinically extremely vulnerable, but it does involve greater risks for you as you will be increasing the number of people you have contact with. It is important that you and the other people in your Christmas bubble consider these risks carefully before agreeing to form a bubble. Forming a Christmas bubble is a personal choice and should be balanced against the increased risk of infection.

The festive period is an important time for many people of all faiths who come together over the holidays. The UK Government and Devolved Administrations recognise that people will want to be with their friends and family over Christmas, particularly after an incredibly difficult year. For this reason, the government has announced it is changing some social contact restrictions for a short period of time. When following these new rules, we must each continue to take personal responsibility to limit the spread of the virus and protect our loved ones, particularly if they are vulnerable. For many, this will mean that it isn’t possible to celebrate Christmas in the way you normally would.

Between 23 and 27 December:

  • you can form an exclusive ‘Christmas bubble’ composed of people from no more than three households
  • you can only be in one Christmas bubble
  • you cannot change your Christmas bubble
  • you can travel between tiers and UK nations for the purposes of meeting your Christmas bubble
  • you can only meet your Christmas bubble in private homes or in your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
  • you can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you are meeting in
  • if you form a Christmas bubble, you should not meet socially with friends and family that you do not live with in your home or garden unless they are part of your Christmas bubble

You should travel to meet those in your Christmas bubble and return home between the 23 and 27 December. Anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland may travel on the 22 and 28 December.

In the two weeks that follow your last meeting with your Christmas bubble, you should reduce your contact with people you do not live with as much as possible.

Children can continue to go to school.

You can go to work if you cannot work from home, but you should avoid unnecessary social interaction. Any increase in contact with other people increases the risk you will catch or spread coronavirus.

 

Access to health and care The NHS is open, and we urge you to continue to access all the NHS services that you need, whatever Tier your local area is in. It is safer for you to use the NHS than to try to manage alone. You can also quickly and easily access a range of NHS services from home, including ordering repeat prescriptions or having an online appointment with your healthcare professional. To find out more visit: www.nhs.uk/health-at-home or download the NHS App. You should also continue to receive support from social care if you require it.

To find out what Tier you are in visit: www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-local-restrictions

Access to additional support Please visit www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support to get more information on what government support is available to everyone during the pandemic. Your local council may run local support networks or hubs, and there might be local charities in your area that can provide you with any extra help you need. Your local council’s website will have more information about this. NHS Volunteer Responders are also available to help with things like collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies and with transport to medical appointments. They can also provide a regular, friendly phone call which can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who was previously advised to shield and will stay in contact for several weeks. More information is available at www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk or you can call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm.

It is also really important to look after your mental health. The Every Mind Matters website offers advice and practical steps that you can take to support your wellbeing and manage your mental health during this pandemic. You can visit them at www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters.

Vitamin D supplements During the autumn and winter months everyone is advised to take a supplement of vitamin D every day to support general health and in particular for bone and muscle health. Many of us have been indoors more than usual this year and so might not have been making enough vitamin D from sunlight. You can find general advice on vitamin D here: www.nhs.uk/vitamin-d