CHURCHES in Bradford are encouraging people to celebrate safely this Christmas, amid Covid-19.

Bradford Cathedral is “concerned” about the new Omicron variant and said safety should be “paramount” over the festive period.

Christmas services at the cathedral will go ahead, but measures will be taken to try and stop the spread of the virus.

A Bradford Cathedral spokesperson said: “We are concerned over the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 rising.

“We regularly review our practices when people attend and we stream many of our services online, so those unable to attend can still participate in our Advent and Christmas events.

“Currently the Government advice is that services and events can go ahead, as long as risk assessments are created and mitigations are in place.

“For us, this means all events must be pre-booked online, which enables us to limit numbers and carry out track-and-trace. Currently we're running at an audience limit of 270 - around 50 per cent of our usual capacity.

“Along with other faith groups, we endorse the current guidance and encourage everyone to follow it and to get vaccinated.

“We communicate via our website, social media and email, to keep people informed of the latest guidance. Everyone attending our services and events are asked to take a lateral flow test beforehand, and only joining us if it's negative.

“Seats are placed at least 1m apart and we ensure good ventilation in the building. Face coverings must also be worn, unless exempt, at all times, and sanitiser and masks are available in the cathedral.

“The pandemic has brought challenges, but Bradford Cathedral has remained in contact with the congregation throughout, with regular phone calls and, where possible, visits, alongside regular email updates.

“Loneliness and mental health have been issues amongst those we work with, but through actively supporting our community, we hope to have been a life-line to them.”

Reverend Nathan Javed, of the Bradford district-based GBM Churches, added that they will be keeping a “close eye” on the Government guidelines over Christmas.

“It’s frightening that this variant has been coming our way – there is an element of fear and suspicion”, he said.

“It’s the festive season and it’s hard for people to be in this situation again, but we just have to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

“People should enjoy themselves, but we should be careful not to over exaggerate ourselves. Let’s all enjoy our dinner and family time, but be safe too.”