The RCN has today warned that relaxing lockdown rules over Christmas will lead to an ‘unrelenting tsunami’ of Covid-19 cases and greater pressure on healthcare services.
Under the Christmas rules, three households in a ‘Christmas bubble’ can mix indoors and stay overnight between 23 and 27 December, and can travel between tiers and UK nations to do so.
RCN chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair has urged the Government to make clear that the relaxed Christmas restrictions will ‘undoubtedly lead to more cases, more pressure on the NHS and cares services, and more deaths’.
She continued: ‘By turning the second and third waves into an unrelenting tsunami, we would begin 2021 in the worst possible way. Nursing staff are telling me they will not enjoy Christmas knowing what awaits them in January.
‘After caring for tens of thousands of positive cases, supporting families at their lowest ebb and even losing our own colleagues, a quieter festive period is not a sacrifice,’ she added.
Dame Donna called on ministers to give ‘fresh and more detailed advice to the public’, which is clear ‘about the risks – not just the rules’.
The warning comes after the four UK nations agreed looser lockdown rules would go ahead over Christmas despite calls for them to be toughened amid rising cases.
The Government has advised that people should only stay with others ‘if you feel you absolutely need to’, adding that a ‘smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas, and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas’.
In Scotland, Christmas bubbles should have a maximum of eight people, not including under-12s. Bubbles should not meet up for more than one day unless they have to.
In Wales, only two households are now allowed to mix.
Northern Ireland has a window of 22 to 28 December to allow time to travel between the nations.
Dame Donna added: ‘This virus isn’t taking Christmas off and nor should we. 2021 is a year that holds so much promise – we have all lost too much in 2020 to set ourselves back now.’