Covid forces cancellation of Northamptonshire village Carols on the Square Christmas Eve event for second year running
Earls Barton church and parish council say decision was taken with 'heavy hearts'
Covid-19 has forced the cancellation of a hugely popular Christmas Eve carols event for the second year running.
Earls Barton's iconic Carols on the Square traditionally sees thousands crammed into the village square to sing carols on December 24.
But parish councillors confirmed on Tuesday (December 21) that this year's celebration would not go ahead as planned as it could pose 'a significant risk to health.'
A statement from the council said: "After careful and serious consideration, Earls Barton Churches Together, supported by Earls Barton Parish Council, have decided reluctantly that this event will not be able to go ahead.
"We have taken this decision with heavy hearts and tried to be fair and caring towards everyone.
"The continued rapid spread of Omicron makes any mass gatherings, even outside, a significant risk to health.
"This is an open and un-ticketed event, and therefore we cannot guarantee that the person standing next to you will wear a mask or have a negative lateral flow test.
"There continues to be considerable uncertainty about developments and government announcements, and we feel it only fair to give notice at the earliest opportunity.
"Our NHS is also under considerable pressure and this was also borne in mind."
The statement also added that several key personnel would be unable to participate due to Covid, including Earls Barton Fire and Rescue.
Last year's Carols on the Square was cancelled in September.
Ironically, yesterday's announcement came just hours before Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally confirmed there would be no new Covid restrictions introduced before Christmas.
Nearly 6,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northamptonshire during the last seven days, according to government figures published on Tuesday — more than during the peak of the second wave back in January.
NHS England also confirmed six previously unreported deaths of Covid patients in Northamptonshire — five at Kettering General Hospital and one at Northampton General.
The data shows 44 people have sadly died while being treated for Covid in the county's hospitals since December 1.