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‘We’re concerned about Christmas’ - How large families are being hit by new ‘rule of six’

PUBLISHED: 17:11 13 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:08 14 September 2020

Karen Wilton and her family of 12, will no longer all be able to meet up in the same place from Monday September 14, when new restirctions on social gatherings come into force in England. Picture: Karen Wilton

Karen Wilton and her family of 12, will no longer all be able to meet up in the same place from Monday September 14, when new restirctions on social gatherings come into force in England. Picture: Karen Wilton

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Large families from across Norfolk have said new restrictions limiting social gatherings to six people are unfair and mean they are paying the price for those who “don’t give a damn” about coronavirus.

Karen Wilton's family numbers 12 when all together, the mother of five has said new restrictions mean large families will pay for other's disregard of previous rules and the risk coronavirus poses. Picture: Karen WiltonKaren Wilton's family numbers 12 when all together, the mother of five has said new restrictions mean large families will pay for other's disregard of previous rules and the risk coronavirus poses. Picture: Karen Wilton

The families we spoke to agreed restrictions were needed to limit the spread of coronavirus but said the blanket rule has, rather than simplified matters, left them facing isolation and difficult choices.

Karen Wilton, from Attleborough, is married with five children ranging in age from seven to 31, her four adult children all have partners and one has a child of their own, meaning when all together they number 12.

New government restrictions mean the family will no longer be able to meet up, either in Mrs Wilton’s home or in her large garden.

She said while she agreed further restrictions needed to be implemented, those with large families were now being punished for others’ disregard of the risks coronavirus poses.

The 55-year-old said; “It’s been a very difficult time as my three daughters all work at Norfolk and Norfolk University Hospital in different departments, one contracting the virus early into lockdown.

“I was, therefore, so happy to be able to see them all again, be it in the garden for a BBQ or in our home for a family roast.

“I do agree that further restrictions must be implemented but it seems sad to hit families so hard when total strangers can congregate daily in many other places.

“Sadly any comment online [about it] is immediately trolled by those amongst us who believe this pandemic is either a total inconvenience or a complete lie.

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“It seems to me that careful families, who adhere to guidelines and take all precautions are paying, often the ultimate price, for those who quite frankly ‘don’t give a damn’,” she said.

Mrs Wilton said the majority of her family hoped to see each other before restrictions came into force: “We’re concerned about Christmas...My family might not be able to get together until next summer, who knows? It’s so sad that families that are taking precautions, [are] so personally affected by this, you can’t help but feel cross,” she said.

In Norwich, Sarah Pearson, 41, who has six children, five of whom are at school and live with her at home said the new rule means she would face a fine of £100 if the group met with anyone outside the family.

The trainee teaching assistant said: “My children didn’t leave our front garden for months. It’s been incredibly hard.

“These kids are all in classes together at school but can’t play in the park together on the way home from school. It’s a nonsense.”

Ms Pearson said she wanted the Government to be “sensible like Scotland and Wales” and exempt children from the rule, which she fears will leave her isolated.

She added: “I had someone tell me I should stay at home, but it’s not that simple when my children need to go to school and I have to carry on with placement and look for work so my benefits aren’t sanctioned.”

Hannah Harvey, 38, from Wymondham, who is married with four children, aged three to 16, also said the new rules would leave her family isolated.

She said: “I don’t disagree with setting clear guidelines or limiting numbers but they haven’t taken into account larger families that are blended. “The average size of a family isn’t 2.4 anymore, so by saying six people you’re taking people away from their loved ones and it becomes difficult to bear that burden.”

Ms Harvey, who has a son with type 1 diabetes, said the new rules would mean her and her wife would no longer be able to access respite care or collectively let their children see their grandparents.

“For families like mine it makes it very difficult to cope and we’re now shut away...it’s really difficult.”


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