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Prime Minister urges people to have 'shorter' and 'safer' Christmas this year

Boris Johnson has asked people to have a "shorter" and "safer" Christmas this year as the coronavirus rates continue to rise.

In a press conference today, the Prime Minister told the nation to think carefully about what they do during the festive period as rules are relaxed.

He said: “While it would not be right, we think, to criminalise people who have made plans and simply want to spend time with their loved ones, we’re collectively – across the UK governments at every level – asking you to think hard, and in detail about the days ahead.”

He said: “Have yourselves a merry little Christmas – and I’m afraid this year I do mean little.

"But with the vaccine, and all the other measures that we are taking, we do know that things will be better in this country by Easter.”

But what will people in Kent do? A recent poll on KentOnline revealed 70% of our readers think that rules should be stronger.

Along High Street, Chatham, where more people are out doing their Christmas shopping, views on the remaining festive plan are mixed.

Lisa Francis, 35, from Chatham
Lisa Francis, 35, from Chatham

Lisa Francis, from Chatham, was strongly against the loosened rules. The 35-year-old said: "I don't agree with it at all because we've fought this long to shield all of our elderly and vulnerable. Loosening the rules is just going to cause a surge again and we're going to be locked down again. We're all trying to fight for normality to come back.

"It's just one Christmas. I know people want to see their elderly relatives but it's just one Christmas. We are in our own bubble and that's it - no grandparents. We were meant to see my mum in Sussex but we all decided when it's safe, we'll all go and see her."

With cases numbers and deaths steadily growing across the county again, Lisa thinks another lockdown is inevitable.

Roberta Bradley echoes Lisa, urging others - in true Christmas spirit - to think of the wellbeing of your fellow person at this time of year.

The Chatham resident said: "I think it should be as few people as possible.

Roberta Bradley, 76, from Chatham
Roberta Bradley, 76, from Chatham

"With all the time spent in lockdown people will see this as a way to be together and go a bit silly and could infect others. I'm not trying to be horrible - I just think we should be careful and think of others.

The 76-year-old said she is spending Christmas with her existing support bubble and will celebrate with the rest of the family later or have a virtual Christmas.

As someone in a higher risk category, she adds: "I think of it this way, if we celebrate this Christmas, some of us might not see next Christmas.

"You could cause someone to die. So think of others at Christmas."

Phil Eagle, from Chatham, recognises the tight spot the government are in and believes whichever way the rules went, people were going always to see their family at christmas.

Phil Eagle
Phil Eagle

The 56-yer-old added: "At the end of the day, they're damned if they do and damned if they don't. People are going to abuse the rules whichever way they go.”

“We’re seeing one person over Christmas and my dad is isolating so I’m bringing him his Christmas dinner. People have to make their own decisions.”

Mark Morgan, from Chatham, sees the struggles business is going through and is worried about high infection rates - but the seemingly arbitrary rules have left him undecided.

The 57-year-old, with few plans over the festive period, said: “The Government is in a difficult position but people have had a terrible year. Traditionally people look towards Christmas to unwind and get together with loved ones.

“But if you walk along the highstreet today, you can see why it’s going up. There’s so many people without face masks. I think a lot of common sense has gone out of the window.

Muhammed Girgyn, 38, from Rochester
Muhammed Girgyn, 38, from Rochester

“But it’s not just that people are dying - it’s about the long term repercussions and what this is doing to the economy. This is Christmas shopping and it’s quiet.”

Muhammed Girgrn, 38, won't be able to see his family in Turkey this year, but has no problem with other people visits theirs this year.

The Rochester resident added: "I think people must be careful with this situation because Covid is spreading fast. I think for older and vulnerable people it's the reasonable precaution.

"I hope it's better soon and I wish all the people a Merry Christmas."

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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