Delay meeting relatives at Christmas if you can, says York health chief

A social distancing sign near the illuminated Bootham Bar. Photograph: YorkMix

A rise in Covid cases in York is likely to be due to household mixing and social gatherings – not city centre shopping, according to the public heath team.

Sharon Stoltz, director of public health, said there has been a slight increase in cases in the past few days and warned that the infection rate can quickly get out of control if guidance is not followed.

It is too early to say where and why the rate has risen slightly, she said.

But she added: “What I’m assuming is what was happening before the second lockdown, when it was households and social mixing where we were seeing most of the cases.

“It’s not necessarily that people were picking it up when they were out and about shopping.

“It is not unexpected that case numbers have started to rise and many other areas have seen a similar picture.”

She also urged people not to see elderly and vulnerable relatives at Christmas if they feel they can wait until their loved ones have had the coronavirus vaccine.

‘Every family is different’

When asked what people who feel they are in a dilemma over their Christmas plans should do, she said: “Every family situation is different.

“There may be many reasons why people feel that they cannot delay seeing elderly or frail relatives, particularly if they are concerned that this might be the last Christmas they have with them.”

Residents can take steps to minimise the risk of infection if they choose to see family members – including by washing hands regularly, wearing face coverings, ensuring the indoor space where they meet is well ventilated with open windows and self isolating if possible before meeting up.

But she added: “I would encourage anyone who can delay meeting relatives over Christmas to delay.

“People will soon be receiving the vaccine and they will be more protected.”

York remains in Tier 2, with another review due on 30 December.

Cllr Carol Runciman said: “I think it will be a light touch review and doubt it will change very much.”

She added that the city needs to get through Christmas and New Year safely, in the hope of moving to Tier 1 after the festive season.