Wear masks indoors at Christmas to protect family, WHO says

16 December 2020, 12:52

The WHO have called on people to "wear masks and maintain physical distancing" over Christmas.
The WHO have called on people to "wear masks and maintain physical distancing" over Christmas. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The World Health Organisation have called on people to "wear masks and maintain physical distancing" over the Christmas period.

The WHO made a "plea" that people follow their guidance "to prevent yet another resurgence of cases in Europe".

"Indoor gatherings, even smaller ones, can be especially risky because they bring together groups of people, young and old, from different households, who may not all be adhering to the same infection prevention measures," they warned.

Read more: Christmas Covid rules 'to remain the same', minister tells LBC

The intervention from the WHO comes as the UK government has faced down calls from public health experts to rethink the relaxation of restrictions over the Christmas period.

A plan had been agreed between the UK government and devolved administrations to allow up to three households to mix between the 23 and 27 December.

However, on Wednesday the Welsh government reduced this to two households and announced a full lockdown from 28 December.

Guidance from Scottish Government is also set to ask people to only meet Christmas bubbles for one day and not stay overnight.

Watch: Eddie Mair challenges Tory MP over 'nonsensical' Christmas relaxation

For those that do plan to meet during the festive period, the WHO recommended that all gatherings should be "outside if possible, and participants should wear masks and maintain physical distancing."

"If held indoors, limiting group size and ensuring good ventilation to reduce exposure risk are key."

They concede that people "may feel awkward to wear masks and practise physical distancing when around friends and family", but add that "doing so contributes significantly to ensuring that everyone remains safe and healthy."

Explained: What are the current Christmas coronavirus rules?

Watch: Top medical journalist explains why PM must scrap Christmas rules

The global health body added: "Individual decisions this winter holiday won’t just affect you and the people closest to you – they will also impact your communities.

"Do not underestimate the importance of your decisions and your power – as an individual, a family or a community – to influence what happens next in this pandemic."

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