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“Think carefully” about Christmas bubbles - leader

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The leader of Dudley Council has urged borough residents to “think carefully” about seeing friends and family over Christmas.

It comes as fears continue to grow that Covid infection rates could rocket in the New Year as a result of relaxing restrictions for five days over the festive period.

Residents are currently allowed to mix with two other households or bubbles between December 23 and December 27.

But today Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, signed a joint statement with the six other leaders of the West Midlands local authorities.

It calls on residents to be “extremely careful” about who they mix with in the run-up to Christmas because of the risk of passing it onto family members.

And it goes a stage further, urging people to think long and hard about whether mixing with other households over Christmas is a good idea.

Recent figures suggest up to one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said:

We can mix with two other households for five days over Christmas – but should we?
That is the question I am urging borough residents to give strong thought to by signing this joint statement.
This has been a tough year and we know people have sacrificed so much.
We're all missing family and friends, and it's understandable that people are desperate for some form of normality.
But Covid doesn't have a calendar. It doesn't respect Christmas, just as it didn't respect Eid, Diwali or Hanukkah.
That's why we are urging the people of the borough to think carefully whether a Christmas extended bubble is a good idea.
This awful virus is as dangerous now as it was back in March and tragically it continues to kill. Covid also continues to pile pressure on the NHS and the very last thing our hospitals need is a post-Christmas third wave.
So please think long and hard about your Christmas plans and do everything you can to keep people safe.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said:

The roll-out of the vaccination offers us all hope for a happier 2021, but it remains very clear that we will collectively pay the price in the New Year if people have too much social contact over Christmas.
The single biggest thing we can all do for our families and friends this Christmas is keep them safe.
This is not an attempt to ruin Christmas and we absolutely understand the need for people to celebrate together. But losing a friend or loved one in the New Year would be a terrible price to pay.
Testing continues to be vitally important. If you have any symptoms, you must get tested straight away and do not go out before you get tested or while awaiting test results. You must self-isolate for the full 10 days if you have COVID or are a close contact - even if that means you will be self-isolating over Christmas.

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