Chris Whitty warns public not to go 'too far' over Christmas and risk third Covid wave

10 December 2020, 20:51

The five-day relaxation of restrictions over Christmas is a “very risky period”, Professor Chirs Whitty said.
The five-day relaxation of restrictions over Christmas is a “very risky period”, Professor Chirs Whitty said. Picture: Getty/PA

By Joe Cook

England’s chief medical officer has warned the public to be “very, very sensible” and to not go “too far” over Christmas, or risk a third wave.

The five-day relaxation of restrictions over Christmas is a “very risky period”, Professor Chirs Whitty said, warning a third wave can only be avoided if people stick to the guidance.

Speaking alongside Prof Whitty at a Downing Street press conference, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the public not to "blow" the progress made in controlling coronavirus, “especially with the vaccine on the horizon”.

Prof Whitty said: "A third wave is not inevitable, but the way we prevent it is by everybody, all of us, coming together and actually deciding we want to try and stick to the guidance that's there."

Read more: Welsh secondary schools and colleges to move online from Monday as cases rise

From the 23rd to 27th December, people across the UK will be allowed to form "Christmas bubbles" of up to three households.

Christmas bubbles will have to be exclusive over the five day period, meaning people cannot move from one bubble to another over the period.

Read more: Christmas Covid rules: Can we mix households and can we make a Christmas bubble?

The chief medical officer called on the nation to “accept that Christmas is a period when we can do things, that's the reason why the rules are being relaxed, but that doesn't mean we should do things”.

"People should really be very, very sensible over that period and over this whole period of risk because this is a very risky period for us.

"But it is definitely not inevitable that things will get substantially worse, that's something we need to all work together on."

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Read more: Mass testing rolled out at secondary schools for worst-hit areas of London, Kent and Essex

Although rates are falling in the midlands and north of England, which are currently under stricter restrictions, some areas with lower restrictions are seeing rising case numbers.

The rise in coronavirus infection rates in the South East and winter pressures on the NHS paint a "concerning picture”, Prof Whitty added.

Read more: Schools can close early on 18 December to give teachers a 'proper break'

“I think we need to actually keep quite a close eye on that, because we all know, the Christmas period, if people go too far in the Christmas period it's going to be a period of risk everywhere.

"So if you add the rates going up, difficult time of year, Christmas period, and then going into the toughest time of the year for the NHS, January and February are always the toughest time for the NHS, that does paint quite a concerning picture."

Prof Whitty’s warning comes a day after his Welsh counterpart, Chief Medical Officer Dr Frank Atherton, urged the public to rethink their plans to meet relatives over Christmas.

Dr Atherton said he has cancelled plans to see family members over Christmas and will instead spend the festive period with his own household.

He told a press conference that the best present people can give to their families is a "coronavirus-free Christmas".

In Wales cases are rising rapidly, with a source telling LBC the Welsh Government is planning a second firebreak lockdown from 28 December, the day after the Christmas relaxation period.

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