The scientist whose modeling led to the UK’s first lockdown said the decision on whether or not to see elderly parents at Christmas comes down to ‘individual judgment’, but measures relaxed during the five-day window will inevitably increase transmission of the coronavirus.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Professor Neil Ferguson said that while mixing indoors “would increase transmission compared to everyone staying at home, with no mixing at all,” the decision to relax the rules was part of finding a balance around compliance.
Referring to the hypothetical option of a Christmas break during which no mixing of households was allowed, the expert said: “What proportion of the population would actually accept it?
“I think you have to bring the people with you. I think the measurements at Christmas… present some risks and I think individual judgment is important in deciding whether to see elderly parents.
Overall, he said, the bubble system should limit the extent of transmission if people adhere to the rules.
The scientist’s message echoed Boris Johnson’s statement to the public earlier this week, when the Prime Minister told families they had to make a “personal judgment” about the risks faced by vulnerable loved ones at the meeting. Christmas.
Ferguson previously described the decision to allow an easing of restrictions on Christmas as a “political judgment”, saying “there will be consequences … some people will die because they were infected that day”.
Government science advisers have said easing measures between December 23 and December 27 would increase infections “potentially significantly” and the prevalence of the virus could easily double in a matter of days.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies has suggested that people mitigate the risk of transmission by celebrating in a different way this year.
While the rules will allow three households to mingle indoors without social distancing for five days, Sage’s advice for limiting the risk of infection offers variations in the restrictions that will allow for a safer celebration.
Tips include celebrating outdoors, as the risk of aerosol transmission is very low outdoors, and forgoing a Christmas in person, with a virtual celebration obviously being the safest route. It is also suggested that you post gifts rather than delivering them in person.
In the case of mixing indoors in person, Sage encourages people to use hand sanitizer and space out the seats to follow social distancing advice, as well as open windows to allow ventilation. The group is also urging people to limit the number of guests and the length of visitors’ stays.
Experts believe sharing food and drink with other households is risky, and suggested changing the entertainment offer to make it safer: Close contact activities, like board games, should be avoided , with quizzes offered as a low-risk alternative.