A POLITICIAN has warned that Christmas is not ‘formally cancelled’ due to Covid – but were it happening today with the upward trending cases across the county, celebrations would be cut short.

Christmas, festive markets, and other seasonal occasions such as Halloween and Bonfire Night are under threat owing to a ‘steep’ rise in infections across Buckinghamshire since the start of October, according to Conservative Cllr and cabinet member for communities and public health, Gareth Williams.

The news comes amid a warning that Buckinghamshire is “not far off” shifting from a medium alert level, or Tier One, into Tier Two or ‘higher’ bearing restrictions which carry “significant consequences” for personal freedoms.

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The council has urged a “change of mindset” to avoid this, strongly recommending against “community transmission” or socialising, adherence to the “rule of six” both in and outdoors, and ‘Hands, Face, and Space’ guidelines.

Buckinghamshire has seen its infection rate per 100,000 people rise from single digits to 87 in little over a month.

Cllr Williams described South Buckinghamshire as the area with the “highest weekly incidents rate” in the county, with 128 per 100,000 people.

“Now is the time to take action,” he said. “It’s arguably too late when you start crashing well north of 100.”

Speaking to the Free Press, Cllr Williams urged against attending seasonal events to slow the trajectory, including commemorations of those who served in major conflicts.

“Remembrance Sunday is not something we’re going to be celebrating in the same way,” he said.

“Similarly, Halloween, Bonfire Night and fireworks displays. We’re asking people not to have big gatherings and attend seasonal things, even outdoors.”

He said Tier Two is a “possibility, given the four-times increase in cases in the last two weeks alone”. Adding: “We’re not far off London at all which has moved into Tier Two.”

When asked what the tipping point is, Cllr Williams said: “There is no threshold number, it’s part of a discussion.

“We look at the rate of increase, which population groups are affected, it’s a case-by-case basis.

“But if we continue seeing the rate we have now, then we are not going to be able to prevent Tier Two.”

Cllr Williams said: “Statistically, the growth rates have been in people aged 20-30 but it’s starting to move up [into the older population], and our BAME communities have also been disproportionately affected.”

READ MORE: What the new three-tier coronavirus restrictions mean for South Bucks

When asked if he favoured ward lockdowns, he said: “I think the localised approach is better… hyperlocal restrictions by ward are, at the moment, not something we’re considering.”

The infection rate per 100,000 people in other areas of Buckinghamshire is currently 66 in Aylesbury Vale, 113 in Chiltern, and almost 80 in Wycombe.

When asked what Christmas might be like under Covid, Cllr Williams said: “It depends what happens between now and Christmas.

“Were Christmas happening today, we’d be asking people not to congregate outdoors in big groups.

“If Christmas markets were happening today, we would ask people not to go.

“We will see what happens between now and then, but Christmas isn’t formally cancelled.”

Cllr Williams agreed the festive period could be ‘stark’ given the trajectory, adding: “We’re trying to keep Buckinghamshire open but given the rise in cases… we’ve all got to pull together otherwise we’re going to have further restrictions imposed on our freedoms.”

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Remembrance Sunday photo by Mark Page