HOW merry should Christmas be? That’s the dilemma facing many families, as scientists recommend that we should have our celebrations online or outside this year.
After a miserable year, many people are clearly looking forward to getting together with their families at Christmas. However, with vaccinations against COVID-19 possibly starting as soon as this week, lots of people would rather hold on for a bit longer and skip the large gatherings this year, to avoid passing the virus around even further.
All four UK nations have agreed the rules for this Christmas, which allow three households to form a ‘Christmas bubble’. People can also travel between all parts of the UK to form these bubbles, but only between 23-27 December (or 22-28 for anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland).
But even though this is allowed, the four UK Governments are encouraging people to think of other ways to celebrate, either online or outside. “The more people you see, the more likely it is
that you will catch or spread COVID-19,” they say. “You can spread coronavirus to others even if you and the people you meet have no symptoms.”
The scientific advice to the Governments has been very clear. The SAGE advisory committee said that it is “highly likely that an increase” in infections will occur over Christmas if people travel around to meet family, and that this will “lead to a rise in hospital admissions and deaths”.
Up to 50% of people in one household can become infected if just one person in the home has COVID-19, and SAGE says that “people should understand that there is risk in visiting their older loved ones”. Similar viruses, such as those that cause colds and flu, have shown in previous years that older people are at increased risk over Christmas.
SAGE also said that even if adults are happy to accept restrictions, they may not want to do anything that will upset their kids, so you should get involved at home and school to help come up with a safe plan for this Christmas.