Households meeting up over Christmas should wear facemasks and have windows open to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, Suffolk's public health chief has said.

Government rules for over the festive period allow three households to meet over a five day period from December 23, but fears remain that it could lead to a spike in cases in the New Year.

Speaking during Friday's local outbreak engagement board, Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble said: "Clearly it's a massively important time for many of us in the year, and we know the guidance available is clear that we have those days where we can meet up with two other households to celebrate Christmas.

"My view is that the vaccine is on the horizon. It is going to take a bit of time to get there, but we will focus our target on the most vulnerable first.

"We need to, for now, hold off on those things we would normally want to do for a bit longer.

"One, it will protect our loved ones and secondly it might help maintain some of our liberties and freedoms we have got at the moment than if we went into Tier 3.

"If people don't need to, let's have a smaller Christmas this year with your immediate household and family, and put it [larger gatherings] off for now.

Sudbury Mercury: West Suffolk Council leader John Griffiths said just because households can meet over Christmas it doesn't mean they shouldWest Suffolk Council leader John Griffiths said just because households can meet over Christmas it doesn't mean they should (Image: Archant)

"I appreciate there are some people our there on their own and it is a difficult time of year, but if people do need and want to come together, to really minimise the level of contact that you spend together. The longer you spend together the more likely you are to spread the virus.

"If you do, make sure you get your windows open and air circulating through your house, really think about wearing masks and keeping your distance where possible. You will probably feel silly doing it, but ultimately you will be protecting each other."

The comments came after health chiefs in the county issued an open letter to people across the county on Friday urging them to carefully consider their Christmas plans, limit social contact and make sure any mixing of three households is stuck to.

West Suffolk Council leader John Griffiths said: "Just because we can do more things in Tier 2 than we could if we had been placed in Tier 3, and over Christmas, it doesn't mean we have to or should do."