Statement on Christmas carol services from the Director of Public Health

Published Friday 18 December 2020 at 12:58

A message from Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health, on Christmas carol services:

Christmas carol services are part and parcel of Christmas and in normal times it would be unthinkable to stop the community coming together for such celebrations. This year however we have to be extremely careful, especially given that we are still under Tier 3 restrictions.

As the government itself has made absolutely clear, even outdoor  Christmas carol services pose an increased risk of transmission of the virus. While they are allowed under the legislation, it is our strong advice, in line with the government’s own advice, that organisers should think very carefully about holding them or looking at alternative ways of enjoying Christmas carols such as holding them online.

Organisers would need extremely stringent risk assessments in place to make sure it is Covid-secure and protect people from the transmission of the disease. Should social distancing fail, the organisers could find themselves liable for any breaches both civilly and criminally.

We are already predicting a spike in Coronavirus in the coming months due to the relaxation of some restrictions over Christmas, and would strongly advise against holding any large scale events due to the risk of transmission of Covid-19 which could then further the spread of the virus and increase the pressure on our health service. In addition, there will be singing at the event which increases risk of transmission even more.

Even with the best of intentions, it is extremely difficult to maintain social distancing in crowds this large and some mingling may inevitably occur.

I fully understand the desire for normal festive activities to take place. No-one is happy with having such restrictions at Christmas. People have been under restrictions for a long time in our borough and I know it is deeply  frustrating. But safety and the health of people in Blackburn with Darwen must still come first so I would urge organisers to think very carefully about these plans.”

Guidance for the Christmas Period

More general guidance for the Christmas Period includes arrangements for visiting places such as shops, Christmas markets and events and confirms that between 23 and 27 December, the rules on who can meet in bars, pubs and restaurants continue to depend on the tier in operation and will not change.

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