Clear messaging on celebrating safely.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has joined with the leaders of the UK Government and the Welsh Government in issuing guidance on how the public should approach Christmas celebrations this year.
The First Minister has stressed that the strong recommendation of the Scottish Government to people across Scotland is to celebrate Christmas this year within your own household and in your own home – and as far as possible to keep any interaction with other households to a minimum. This is by far the safest way to spend this Christmas and keep your loved ones safe.
However, certain flexibilities were agreed in recognition of the impact of loneliness over Christmas on wellbeing and the fact that some people will not be willing to leave loved ones alone. These provide a window of opportunity and should be seen as legal maximum to work well within. The guidance being issued seeks to reduce risks as far as possible for anyone choosing to use these flexibilities.
The First Minister stressed that the following key points should be taken into consideration by anyone choosing to spend time with other households indoors: keep the duration of any interaction as short as possible: keep any bubble as small as possible; avoid travel and overnight stays unless unavoidable; and comply with all distancing and hygiene advice.
“Our strong advice this Christmas is to stay at home with your own household. Any interaction with other households should, as far as possible, be outdoors. That is the best way of keeping yourself and your loved ones safe this Christmas.
However, we recognize that in some cases, the isolation caused by being alone over Christmas will in itself cause harm to people’s welfare and that is why we have created a window of flexibility with accompanying guidance, to ensure that any household mixing is done as safely as possible,
“If you choose to form a bubble over the Christmas period, then you should take into consideration these key points:
“First, minimise the number of people in the bubble – while three households is the legal maximum, our recommendation is that two households would be better, and you should keep as far within the maximum of eight people over the age of 12 as you can. In short, the smaller the bubble is, the better and safer it will be.
“Second, you should minimise the time spent with your bubble, especially indoors. The five days is a window of opportunity, not a recommended time that it is safe for you to spend together – indeed, the Scottish Government recommends that you do not meet up with people in your bubble on any more than one day over the period and do not stay overnight unless it is unavoidable. And you should minimise the distance you intend to travel.
“You should also avoid all travel between high prevalence areas and low prevalence areas – in particular, that means avoiding travel to or from Scotland and Tier 3 areas in England, and to or from any Level 4 areas in Scotland (of which there are currently none).
The First Minister concluded:
“Being asked not to see loved ones at Christmas unless absolutely essential is one of the toughest things imaginable. But, this year, it is essential to help keep people safe. With a vaccination programme now underway, a return to more normal life is on the horizon – and I hope that the prospect of brighter days ahead will help all of us get through this difficult Christmas as safely as possible.”
Note: The Scottish Government guidance on Christmas and the festive period has been updated.