Ralph Roberts, chief executive of NHS Borders, has urged everyone to stick to the guidance in order to keep themselves and their loved ones safe as the virus continues to spread in the region.
He said: “Despite repeated warnings over the past two weeks, we continue to see an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases locally and the impacts of that will be significant, not simply for families who have to self-isolate on Christmas Day, but also on our health services.
“Whilst we continue to rollout the vaccine I cannot emphasise how important it is that everyone continues to follow the FACTS guidance and sticks to the various restrictions in place.
“Please don’t put your own twist on the rules, particularly on Christmas Day when these are being temporarily relaxed.
“Doing so puts yourself, your family, friends and colleagues at real risk, and tragically we know that the consequences can be life-changing for almost anyone and catastrophic for our more vulnerable residents.”
Mr Roberts’ warning comes as 16 new positive cases were reported in the last 24 hours – contributing to the latest seven-day total of 124.
Meanwhile, Scottish Borders Council has announced its plans to support Borderers during the Level 4 restrictions which will come into effect from one minute past midnight on Boxing Day.
Community assistance hubs will continue to operate to support those in need in all our communities and co-ordinate support across a range of partners and community groups, including over the festive period.
Anyone in need of help and support can contact their local hub through 0300 100 1800.
Education arrangements have also been put in place for the period from January 5, in-line with the Scottish Government’s weekend announcement.
These will see all Early Years settings and schools open from that date for invited children of all ages as well as the children of key workers up to S2.
All other children and young people remain on holiday until January 11, when online and remote learning will be provided for all pupils, with in-school arrangements continuing for invited young people and the children of key workers.
The Level 4 restrictions will have some limited service impacts, including restrictions on care home visiting, however, the vast majority of council services will be unaffected, including waste and recycling collections and community recycling centres.
The council says that some services, such as social work, will be enhanced to ensure that all those in need are supported as required.
Supported by the council’s Inspire Learning programme, iPad devices have been provided to all SB Cares-operated care homes to enable families to keep in contact with loved ones, especially where they live outwith the area, and will be affected by the enhanced travel restrictions in place under Level 4.
Councillor Shona Haslam, leader of Scottish Borders Council, said: “Our key priority continues to be ensuring that the most vulnerable people in our communities receive the support they need in these challenging times, and especially so when we move to Level 4 from Boxing Day.
“There is no doubt that the Level 4 restrictions may mean that the more vulnerable and elderly within our communities may need support and assistance once again.
“As a result, we have quickly reviewed and refreshed our plans to ensure that we have robust arrangements in place so the council and our partners, including resilient community groups and other local organisations, can support all those in need.
“We will also continue to support our local businesses, with no need for firms to reapply for the Strategic Framework Business Fund if they have already done so.
“Our teams will review entitlement to funding with the move to Level 4 and process the relevant payments.
“I would urge any business that has not yet made an application, especially as more businesses will be eligible when we move to Level 4, to do so via www.scotborders.gov.uk/covid19business as soon as possible.
“Whilst the council and our partners will do all we can to support our residents and communities, it really is critical that we all work together to minimise the impact of the virus in the first place.
“Please follow the FACTS guidance and stick to the restrictions and guidance in place.”
For information on the community assistance hubs and the support available, visit www.scotborders.gov.uk/cahs or call 0300 100 1800.
For information on all aspects of the council’s Level 4 response plans and arrangements, including details of education arrangements from January 5, click here.