Christmas bubbles hanging in the balance as Covid cases rise
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Christmas bubbles are hanging in the balance amid rising coronavirus cases around the country, with talks set to the continue today.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove met leaders of the devolved administrations on Tuesday evening to explore options, but talks over the planned easing of rules over Christmas are set to continue on Wednesday.
As cases rise around much of the UK, including most parts of Norfolk, there have been calls for the easing of rules from December 23 to 27 to be scrapped.
Across much of Norfolk, coronavirus cases are rising.
In the week to December 11, cases per 100,000 people increased week-on-week in Breckland (from 72.2 to 96.5), Broadland (100.9 to 138.4), east Suffolk (56.5 to 87.8), Great Yarmouth (126.8 to 162.1), King's Lynn and West Norfolk (93.8 to 143.3) and Norwich (123.8 to 134.4).
In south Norfolk that figure fell (110 to 97.2), as well as in north Norfolk (70.6 to 62).
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Labour Norwich South MP Clive Lewis said: “The reality is if lockdown rules are relaxed there are people who will read my comments who won’t be around after Christmas - that’s the grim reality.
“We have to ask ourselves are those lives worth us getting together, in a limited fashion?"
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Mr Lewis acknowledged people had to “make some hard decisions this Christmas”.
Age Norfolk, a charity which supports the elderly and vulnerable in the county, has called on people to do what they feel comfortable with, as long as they do so responsibly.
A spokesman said: "‘Everyone can form a Christmas bubble, even if you're extremely clinically vulnerable. However, doing so might carry a higher risk. It's a good idea to think about the possible risks and work out what's best for you. This is a personal decision and you should do what you feel comfortable with."
There have been calls nationally not to forget about the impact loneliness can have.
Bishop of Norwich the Rt Rev Graham Usher said: "Christmas is going to be so different this year and that will be hard for many people, not least those who are lonely. The key thing is for all of us to take shared responsibility in keeping ourselves and others safe."
He said churches in Norfolk and Waveney were live streaming services.
"Of course, we can all reach out to those who we think might be lonely, perhaps speaking to them safely at their front door or giving them a call," he said.
Paola Colombo, social development manager at local mental health charity Norfolk and Waveney Mind, said: "The Christmas period usually gives us a welcome lift as we enjoy festive activities and spend time with friends or family, but this year’s restrictions will make it a tough time for many who haven’t been able to visit or hug their loved ones, in some cases for many months.”