Expert says to spend less than 15 minutes in shop to reduce Covid risk

You should spend no more than 15 minutes in a shop if you want to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19, according to a SAGE expert.

Non-essential shops across England will reopen on December 2 after a month of lockdown – and all shops are allowed to open anywhere across the country regardless of what tier they are in.

Some retailers have said they will open 24-hours a day to allow people to catch up with their Christmas shopping others are opening until midnight, with many retailers saying they will extend their hours in December.

But SAGE professor Lucy Yardley, speaking to Times Radio, suggested limiting the amount of time spent inside shops, reports The Mirror.

Asked how long is too long, she said: “Well, the rule that is useful for contact tracing is that if you spend 15 minutes with somebody closer than two metres, then you have definitely had a potentially infectious contact with them.

“So that’s quite a generous amount of time, I am not sure that most of us would need that amount of time in a shop.

“And really the less time that you spend in there, the safer you are. If you spend time, close enough to somebody and they happen to bring it on you or cough on you, then it doesn’t take 15 minutes to catch the virus.”

But she said as long as people stick to social distancing rules and wear masks while indoors, Christmas shopping is “not the most dangerous thing.”

Prof Yardley also urged people to “take a step back” and think before visiting elderly relatives.

“Is it really important for you to share your home for the entire period that’s allowed?” she said. “Because that is very risky to older people who are particularly vulnerable to this infection.

“So I think, although we’re allowed to do that, and some people will want to do that, the first question to ask yourself is, would it be better to put it off for a few months until they’ve been vaccinated?

“Which hopefully, they will be if they’re very vulnerable, and do it more safely at that time.”

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