WITH a week to go until the Government’s planned five-day relaxation of the COVID-19 restrictions, Sefton Council is urging residents who don’t have coronavirus symptoms to get a SMART test before any family gatherings.
Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health said: “Getting the results of a SMART test at our Bootle, Southport and Aintree sites will reduce the chance of passing on the COVID-19 virus to relations who may be vulnerable to what is still a dangerous virus over Christmas.
“It takes just 30 minutes to get the results and the reassurance that you’re helping to keep your family safe this Christmas.”
Hundreds of people across Sefton Borough are already taking SMART tests every day at Bootle Leisure Centre, Slash World in Southport and at Aintree racecourse. Each site is open from 9am to 6pm seven days a week apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. They will close at 4pm on Christmas eve and New Year’s Eve.
Mrs Jones added: “I can understand that any of us might be reluctant to get a test because we think a positive result will spoil our Christmas but it’s a question of weighing that up against the possibly devastating effects of knowing we’ve given COVID-19 to an elderly or vulnerable relative for whom infection could be very serious and even life-threatening.”
Due to be introduced on Wednesday December 23, and last until Sunday December 27, the government’s Christmas rules say that people can form a 'Christmas bubble' made up of people from three households. People can travel between tiers and between UK nations to meet their bubble.
People can only meet in homes, places of worship or public outdoor spaces, and not pubs or restaurants, and any meetings with people outside a bubble must be according to local rules.
Commenting on the Government’s Christmas rules Margaret Jones said:
“While most of us will be taking a well-earned break at Christmas, I can assure you Covid-19 won’t so please remain really careful.
“It won’t be coming down the chimney but it will find its way into our homes if we give it a chance. It might arrive with our friends or relatives or if it’s got here already, it may leave with them. And nobody will know until too late.
“So, while the temporary Government relaxations says we ‘can’ do things we all need to think whether we really ‘should’ do them and regularly getting a SMART test will help us decide.”
“And if we do, decide to mix with bigger bubbles, it’s important we don’t get carried away with Christmas fizz and let our guard down.
“We all need to carry on keeping socially distanced, wash our hands frequently and regularly cleaning touch points such as door handles and surfaces.”
“I know people don’t want to be lectured at a time when they are thinking about enjoying themselves but I sincerely want everyone to have a Merry Christmas but also a Happy New Year, in which they and their loved ones are safe.”
Details of COVID testing in Sefton can be found at www.sefton.gov.uk/testing