Hanukkah like many previous festivals will be very different this year as coronavirus cases still remain high in our local communities, as well as across the country. There is still enjoyment to be had without increasing the risk of people contracting coronavirus.

Even if people cannot spend time with loved ones over the Hanukkah period it is still important to make sure they do not feel lonely, especially if they have been self isolating to keep safe from the virus. Residents are being urged to send their loved ones a card, meet them outside for a socially distanced walk or give them a phone call. Even if people can’t be physically together, there are ways to make loved ones feel cared for. 

Current coronavirus rules for Tier 2 mean that people who do not live with each other cannot visit each others homes. However, for 5 days between 23 to 27 December only there will be a temporary change to these regulations which mean that three households can form a “bubble” to allow them to visit each other’s homes. Even though the Government has presented this as a “X-mas Bubble” it is not just for those who celebrate X-mas, though it has been recognised that this can be frustrating given it won’t coincide with Hanukkah.

The three households who form a bubble must be exclusive. Each person can only belong to one bubble and, once formed, the bubble cannot include other people or households and will not be able to visit pubs or restaurants together. Residents are being urged to think carefully about who is in their X-mas bubble and whether any of them are at particularly high risk from COVID-19, such as older friends or relatives. To reduce the risk to loved ones, residents are being asked to try and reduce their contact with other people as much as possible for the 2 weeks before they go into their bubble on 23 December.

After the 27 December, including New Years Eve, we go back to the existing Tier-2 restrictions, which currently forbid visiting homes of people you do not live with. 

Even though the COVID-19 regulations will be eased for the holidays, COVID-19 hasn’t gone away and residents are being urged to consider delaying face to face celebrations with loved ones until 2021, or doing them online this year, as we wait for the country- wide vaccination programme and the pandemic to come under control. 

If residents do plan on forming a bubble between the 23-27 December and inviting people into their home, there are ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. However it is not possible to take steps to guarantee celebrations are COVID-19 safe unless undertaken virtually.

So, when meeting people should take these measures to prevent the spread of the virus:

  • do not allow people to visit your home who do not live with you, except for people in your “Xmas Bubble” and then only during the period between 23-27 December
  • wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitiser
  • clean touch points regularly, such as door handles, light switches, banisters and other surfaces
  • make sure you let as much fresh air in as possible, by opening windows and doors in short bursts of 10-15 minutes or leaving them ajar. Add an extra layer of clothing, to avoid getting cold.
  • testing will be available throughout the Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year periods. So if you do develop Covid-19 symptoms at any point you can and must get tested and isolate if you test positive.

Restrictions are only being changed for the period between 23-27 December. Tier restrictions will be back in place on 28 December and will cover New Year’s Eve. Fireworks in London have been cancelled this year. You must comply with the required restrictions outside the five day period. 

Watch the virtual menorah lighting tonight (10 December) on the Hackney Council youtube channel

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