The statement below has been updated following changes to Christmas guidance that were announced by the government on Saturday 19 December.
City leaders have come together to thank citizens for helping drive down COVID-19 infections in Bristol and also urge caution during the festive season, so that everyone can have a safe Christmas and New Year.
It was announced by the government on Thursday 17 December that Bristol will move from Tier 3 (very high) to Tier 2 (high) at 00.01 on Saturday 19 December, which will see some restrictions in the city eased.
People will still not be able to meet inside with people they don’t live with, or have a support bubble with, however restaurants and pubs serving food can reopen, as can entertainment venues, tourist attractions, and sports venues.
Furthermore, on Christmas Day, social contact restrictions will be relaxed by the government to allow people of all faiths to come together. On 25 December, people who do not live in a Tier 4 area can form exclusive Christmas bubbles and socialise indoors with up to two other households.
Bristol’s city leaders and health and community experts, who are working together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, have urged people to remember the number of infections in the city is still high and we should therefore all be cautious about who we meet over Christmas to prevent the virus spreading further.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “This year has hugely challenged and affected us all. I know for many, Christmas will shine some light on a very difficult and dark period and I hope you are able to celebrate safely with your loved ones.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to people across the city for their role in protecting Bristol and each other. It’s not been easy and you have made sacrifice after sacrifice. However it’s important for us to all remember that the virus hasn’t gone away, and we still need to be cautious over Christmas. You don’t have to meet up with other households if you don’t want to, and we still must be vigilant about protecting elderly or vulnerable friends and family from COVID-19.”
James Durie, Chief Executive of Bristol Chamber and Initiative at Business West, said: “Moving to Tier 2 is news that will be welcomed by Bristol businesses and is the result of the hard work across our communities. However, we must all continue to work very hard to follow the guidance, take precautions for ourselves and our colleagues and help to further drive down infections, otherwise the New Year will see us return to where we were.
“November and December are the peak trading periods for many of the businesses impacted and having their doors closed for so much of this period has been devastating to them. So many businesses are right on the edge of being able to survive and we all need to help by enabling them to stay open. So, whatever the temptations - please do follow the guidance. The virus will not be taking this Christmas off.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, said: “This year turned out to be an extraordinarily challenging and unusual time and, unfortunately, we’re not quite out of the woods yet. However, the distribution of the vaccine to the elderly and most vulnerable certainly provides light at the end of a long tunnel and I hope that in the coming months, life will start to return to normal for us all.
“Over the last nine months, I have been overwhelmed with the efforts of local people and the sacrifices so many of you have made, and you all deserve a massive thank you. I know communities and businesses have found this year exceptionally hard but we need to uphold our determination over Christmas the New Year and into 2021 to further prevent the transmission of the virus. While trying to enjoy the festive period, we must exercise extreme caution, stay local and take personal responsibility over Christmas.”
Sandra Meadows, CEO of Voscur, Bristol’s support and development agency for charities, communities and enterprise, said: It has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone in Bristol and as the end of the year and Christmas approaches I am also mindful of other religious celebrations such Eid, Hanukkah and Diwali where we’ve had to restrict celebrations and contact with loved ones. This year, every community in Bristol has really stepped up and played its part in helping to stop the spread of the virus and all efforts are very much appreciated.
“Christmas and New Year will be very different this year – COVID-19 is still with us and, in Bristol, we are still fighting to reduce case numbers and infection rates. We know that the virus thrives and spreads through contact so, as hard as it is, I would urge everyone to act responsibly, follow the guidance and do the most to protect themselves and loved ones. This year let’s keep it small and keep it safe.
“As I reflect on a year that has been personally momentous, for both good and bad reasons, I am again in awe of the outstanding levels of support and care provided by hundreds of charities, voluntary and community organisations across the city. I want to say a huge thank you to every individual and organisation for working so tirelessly and selflessly to support and protect our citizens, communities and the city. Let’s start 2021 with renewed hope for an end to COVID-19 and restored energy to build an even better city for everyone.”
Christina Gray, Director of Public Health for Bristol, said: “Our spirits have been uplifted with news of the vaccine and we continue to support the NHS with the roll out in Bristol. However, it’s vital we take personal responsibility over the Christmas period to avoid another significant peak in infections in January, so please remember: hands, face, space, and ventilate enclosed areas to minimise risk of spread.
“You may also want to consider staying at home and reducing your contact with others as much as possible after seeing people from another household so that if you have been in contact with COVID-19, you are at a reduced risk of spreading it to others.
“Please celebrate safely, especially with those who are vulnerable, and have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year.”
Bristol City Council’s freephone We Are Bristol helpline will remain open for emergencies, for those who need urgent help accessing food or collecting prescriptions (from 10am to 2pm on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 27 and 28 December).”
On Christmas Day, you are permitted to travel to Tier areas 1, 2 and 3 to meet your 'Christmas bubble', but you must not join a 'Christmas bubble' with anyone from a Tier 4 area. You should stay local where possible, and avoid travelling from a high prevalence to a low prevalence area.
From 26 December, you must follow the guidance for the Tier in your area, including on New Year’s Eve.
You can read the full government guidance for Christmas and New Year here.