Bereavement group calling for people to ‘be aware of risks’ of Christmas

'You need to go into [Christmas] with your eyes wide open because you just never know who's going to be badly affected’

Bethany Dawson
Wednesday 25 November 2020 17:20

A support group for those bereaved by Covid is calling for people to take extra caution in their approach to the new regulations allowing for household mixing over the Christmas period.

"We’re not saying Christmas should be should be cancelled. We just want to make sure that people are really aware of the risks and whether it is worth one day" Jo Goodman, co-founder of Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, told The Independent

This statement comes after the government released its Covid-19 winter plan, which included regulations stating that three households are able to mix indoors from the 23 December to 27 December. 

While recognising the good news this appears to be, Bereaved Families for Justice is encouraging a cautious approach to the festive season. 

"You can see why people feel the need to gather, as there has been a huge amount of isolation and people are struggling emotionally. But then we know what it's like to struggle emotionally when you've had the absolute worst thing happened to you," Ms Goodman told The Independent

"Our minds automatically go to, you know if people go ahead and gather there will be thousands of lives lost and thousands of families that have the heart ripped out for them." 

The comments come alongside advice from Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, who told a Commons committee: “The virus doesn’t care if it’s Christmas. We still have pretty high prevalence across the country. It is risky for people to mix indoors with alcohol with elderly relatives at this point in time.”

Ms Goodman also called for a rejection of the notion that it is clear who will be especially vulnerable to the virus. She lost her father, Stuart, who she describes as having the “typical vulnerabilities” in April. Just three weeks later, her marathon-running brother in his thirties was put in intensive care with Covid. 

“You need to go into [Christmas] with your eyes wide open because you just never know who's going to be badly affected,” she said.

The group was put together by people who had lost loved ones at the beginning of the pandemic, and has been calling for a rapid public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic.

The number of members of the group, and the number of people calling for an inquiry, continue to grow. With Ms Goodman saying “everyday we've got new people joining our group who have just been recently bereaved, and so many of those stories could be our own stories from March, April, May. 

“It's not like we've got ourselves into a good position. And it's still not really clear what the impact of this lockdown has been in terms of bringing case numbers down.”

Also professing the same message, Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC’s Newsnight “[these measures] will definitely lead to increased transmission”, adding: “It is likely to lead to a third wave of infection, with hospitals being overrun, and more unnecessary deaths”.  

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