Should I cancel my Christmas party? Bristol health boss lays out the rules and guidance so far

‘It’s more important than ever to be cautious.’

Bristol’s health chief has made a move to clear up confusion over attending Christmas parties and gatherings as the Omicron variant spirals across the city and the UK.

Christina Gray, director of public health at Bristol City Council, has warned that the new strain is ‘very infectious’ and ‘spreading very quickly’.

The first case of Omicron was confirmed by Bristol mayor Marvin Rees on December 8 - the number is expected to have increased, with the Government due to release more information on local level today (Friday, December 17).

Fearing another lockdown, many have decided to cancel Christmas parties along with bookings at hotels and restaurants in order to help curb the spread - another devastating blow to the hospitality sector after what has already been a challenging few years.

Hospitals in the city remain in Opel 4, their highest level alert, and face ‘one of their toughest winters yet’.

Bristol’s public health director Christina Gray outside Bristol City Hall

People have been left scratching their heads over conflicting advice, but Christina has echoed Government guidance that there is no need to cancel Christmas parties or gatherings.

However, she added: ‘It is more important than ever to be cautious’.

The health chief says that ‘while it is a tough ask’ over the holiday period, she is urging to residents to think about ‘what is important to you and who it’s most important to spend time with’.

“Overall rates of infection in the UK and in Bristol are already high, and we expect these to rise steeply in coming days and weeks. This current wave is expected to peak sometime in January,” she went on.

“All of the preventative and protective measures that we have come to know very well over the last two years are the same for all variants of the virus.

“ If you are planning on gathering with friends and family during this festive period, take a lateral flow test before you go, and try to ensure indoor areas are well ventilated.

“Fresh air considerably reduces the risk of transmission.

Bristol Royal Infirmary which is run by University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust

“If you are feeling unwell, stay at home and don’t spread it around – mild illness for you could be really serious for someone else.

“Continue to wear a face covering in public spaces, unless exempt, and keep washing your hands.”

Christina also reiterated the importance of the vaccination programme, adding: “It is vital that everyone is vaccinated with their first, second and booster dose.

“The more people that are fully vaccinated, the better our protection against this virus.

“For all the details you need about vaccinations and our accelerated booster programme, visit www.grabajab.net.”