We are all looking forward to the festive season this year, especially after we were unable to celebrate and enjoy our individual traditions last year.
Although the majority of residents are vaccinated, it is really important we still continue to take steps to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and other seasonal illnesses.
The emergence of the Omicron variant also means it is vital that those who are eligible get their booster jab.
Taking a number of small steps will not only protect yourself, but those around you and importantly, the NHS which experiences extreme pressure at this time of year.
On Saturday 27 November, the Prime Minister announced a range of temporary measures as a precaution to slow down the potential spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Knowsley Council will continue to monitor the current situation and update any guidance in line with Government announcements.
If you’ve not had your COVID-19 vaccination, or, if eligible, your COVID-19 booster, you’re encouraged to get it as soon as possible.
The vaccination gives you the best possible protection against the virus. It reduces the risk of you getting seriously sick if you catch the virus. It also reduces the risk of you catching or passing it on.
Eligible residents are also encouraged to get their flu vaccine. This protects the most vulnerable against one of the most common winter illnesses.
You can find out more about vaccination here.
Keep your gatherings ventilated
Coronavirus particles can linger in the air and so it’s important to keep rooms ventilated. You don’t need to keep the window open for the whole day or night but allowing fresh air for around 10 minutes every hour is enough to reduce the risk.
Have sanitiser on hand
If you’re the host for a gathering, make sure you have hand sanitiser near the front door and encourage everyone to use it. If you’re guest, try and take your own hand sanitiser so you have some on hand throughout the day or night.
Consider meeting outside
Why not take advantage of those crisp sunny winter days and meet friends for a festive walk? There are lots of lovely walking routes around the greenspaces of Knowsley and across the region.
Wear a face covering in enclosed or busy spaces.
Wearing a face covering protects you and those around you. A recent global study showed that mask-wearing is the single most effective public health measure at tackling COVID, reducing incidence by 53%.
From 4am Tuesday 30 November face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.
In schools, face coverings should also be worn in communal areas in all settings by staff, visitors and pupils or students in year 7 and above, unless they are exempt.
Pupils or students (in year 7 or above) should continue to wear face coverings on public and dedicated school transport, unless they are exempt.
We’re urging residents to wear a face covering when in busy or enclosed spaces. It is important to remember that, even if vaccinated, there is a chance you can catch and pass on the virus, potentially to someone more vulnerable.
Before heading out for a Christmas party or festive gathering, make sure you test yourself for COVID-19. 1 in 3 people with the virus don’t experience symptoms but can still pass it on.
Knowsley residents are encouraged to undertake twice weekly testing for COVID-19. However, Knowsley Council is also encouraging residents to take an additional test before meeting vulnerable relatives or periods of higher risk such as attending parties.
You can pick up home testing kits from local pharmacies, our testing sites and via home delivery. Find out more on testing here.
Keep following COVID safe behaviours
The advice reiterates many behaviours that have become embedded into our everyday lives. This includes:
- Regularly washing your hands with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
- Carry a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes (discard of the tissue immediately and then wash your hands)
- Consider others – some people may still prefer to wear a face covering (or for you to wear one if you’re in close contact with someone) or for you to keep your distance, so please respect others wishes.
Don’t take risks
If you start to experience symptoms it is important that you isolate and book a test. If you are a close contact of someone who tests positive, you should also book a test as quickly as possible and reduce your contact with others.
The main COVID-19 symptoms are a high temperature, a new continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
You can book a test online https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.
Cllr Christine Bannon, Cabinet Member for Health, said “We know everyone is excited for Christmas and the whole festive season, but it is really important that we all take steps to protect ourselves and those around us.
“Last year we saw a rapid growth in the number of cases of COVID-19 following the short period during which restrictions were eased. Although we enter this festive season with the added protection of the vaccine, it is important we remain cautious.
“In order to protect ourselves, our loved ones, the wider community and our NHS, I urge all residents the follow the steps outlined above.
“Let’s all play our part and help keep Knowsley safe this Christmas.”