Covid-19 “doesn’t care if it’s Christmas,” warned a leading public health expert.
Professor Devi Sridhar’s comments came after officials from the four British nations agreed that families from three households can celebrate the festive season together.
The plans were approved by the leaders of all British nations at a COBRA meeting on Tuesday afternoon
Prof. Sridhar, chairman of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said it was “risky” to meet indoors – especially when older relatives are nearby and alcohol could be involved.
However, she said the recent vaccine breakthroughs could mean the country will be in a “fundamentally different” position in March.
Speaking to a joint meeting of the Health and Social Committee and the Science and Technology Committee, she said, “People want to hear emotionally calming messages.
“They wanted to hear this summer that there wasn’t going to be a second wave, and they want to hear it now that Christmas will be normal.
“I think I have to be blunt – the virus doesn’t care if it’s Christmas.
“We still have a fairly high prevalence across the country.
“At this point, it is risky for people to mix with elderly relatives with alcohol indoors.”
When asked what she would advise regarding Christmas, Prof. Sridhar added, “What I would tell people because people keep asking me is, ‘Do you want to infect the people you love or in your home to be responsible? or bring it to your home for Christmas? ‘
“We’re in a pandemic, you can still see your family, you can still celebrate with your communities, but in a safer way.
“So get outside – we know that it’s so much safer outside than inside, going for a walk, eating outside.
“If you want to be inside, ventilate, open your windows and make sure there is enough air circulation.
“You know, when you see elderly or vulnerable people, if you can, you can isolate for two weeks so you don’t expose them.”
“If you really want to be extra careful, as you know, there are rapid tests that you can do in addition to the incubation period.
“But we’re in a pandemic and I think people need to realize that it’s not going to be a normal Christmas – Christmas won’t be canceled – but it will feel a lot different.”
“We don’t want to pay for Christmas with hospitalizations in January and deaths in February.”