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Posted 2020-11-29 15:10:16 UTC

“Don’t hug Granny at Christmas” says Chief Medical Officer

 

Professor Chris Whitty advises that people should not hug or kiss their grandparents at Christmas despite the loosening of coronavirus restrictions over the Christmas period, one of the UK’s top medical officers has warned.

 

Coronavirus restrictions will be lifted between December 23 and 27, allowing up to three households to meet indoors in a “Christmas bubble”. But just because it’s legal, it doesn’t mean it’s safe, Whitty cautioned.

 

In a message some feel is overly harsh and unrealistic, he said: "Would I encourage someone to hug and kiss their elderly relatives? No, I would not, if you want them to survive to be hugged again."

 

Addressing social distancing indoors with elderly relatives, he referred to the fact that a vaccine will soon be available and will mean an end is in sight to harsh measures which mean the elderly and at risk have to be isolated.

 

He advised people to use their common sense , explaining : "It is not against the law – and that's the whole point. You can do it in the rules that are there, but it does not make sense because you could be carrying the virus and if you've got an elderly relative, that would not be the thing you want to do in the period where we're running up to a point where we might be able to protect older people.”

 

“I think people just have to have sense and this is very much what I think people will do.”

“In terms of Christmas, Christmas will increase the risk, everyone knows that. That’s not a secret at all.

“But that is not the only risk over this period at all.”

 

He added: “Take it really seriously during Christmas. Don’t do stupid things. Don’t do unnecessary things just because the rules say you can. Think sensibly.”

 

Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, said: “Hugging elderly relatives is not something to go out and do, it will increase the spread to a vulnerable population.”

 

There had been concerns that Boris Johnson would continue the social distancing rules across the Christmas period, with public figures like Piers Morgan and Lorraine Kelly calling for Christmas to be ‘cancelled’ this year , to allow for the R rate to fall and to allow for the progress made in reducing the spread of Covid during the latest lockdown period to not be undone by a reprieve over Christmas.

 

However, the Prime Minister clearly understood the importance of families needing to see one another . Announcing the lifting of lockdown measures on December 2, Mr Johnson said: "I can't say that Christmas will be normal this year - but in a period of adversity, time spent with loved ones is even more precious for people of all faiths and none.

 

"We all want some kind of Christmas, we need it, we certainly feel we deserve it. But what we don't want is to throw caution to the winds and allow the virus to flare up again, forcing us all back into lockdown in January.

 

"So to allow families to come together, while minimising the risk, we're working with the devolved administrations on a special, time-limited Christmas dispensation, embracing the whole of the United Kingdom."

 

Record numbers of people have been reported as experiencing loneliness and mental health issues this year, with people unable to see their families and working from home and missing normal interactions with friends and colleagues.

 

What do you think of Professor Whitty’s advice? Is it scaremongering? Or should people be allowed to do as they wish behind closed doors?

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