'Relaxing behaviour at Christmas will almost guarantee January lockdown'

7 December 2020, 19:01

By Fiona Jones

University College London's lead scientist in infectious diseases Oksana Pyzik says a January lockdown is "almost guaranteed" if people ignore social distancing, after Nottingham Christmas market was packed at the weekend.

The Christmas market in Nottingham will be closed for the rest of the year after it was forced to shut amid criticism over the lack of social distancing.

The Winter Wonderland opened on Saturday for just one day before the announcement despite the area being under Tier Three restrictions.

Infectious disease expert Oksana Pyzik remarked that, like the first lockdown, England has ended its second lockdown and "unleashed activity all at once."

Ms Pyzik told Eddie the country is in a "very delicate balance" at the moment and the R level could "quickly creep up", pointing out that for every day of relaxation around Christmas there will be more days of restrictions.

For Nottingham's Christmas market, enforcing social distancing rules in large crowds would have been "impossible"; while it's a nice idea, she said, all safety would have gone "out of the window."

"The virus needs hosts, the more people that are around you, the quicker it spreads," Ms Pyzik, "Christmas is a time where people want to be together...so typically this could be a danger zone.

"We're just at week two now, we've got a way to go until Christmas."

Having seen the pictures of Nottingham's Christmas market, Ms Pyzik branded it "concerning" and questioned what this would mean for the rest of December.

"We've had a lot of back and forth in terms of what the rules are...I think that people do now feel wary about what the Government promises and doesn't promise," she said.

"If this carries on it's almost going to guarantee a January lockdown," she said, pointing out the public has a "collective responsibility."

Ms Pyzik said that with the UK approving the first Covid vaccine, we are getting closer to the finish line "so to drop the ball now and to have more people die unnecessarily...would be such a waste of all the previous sacrifice that everyone has made."

She suggested that instead of going shopping and risking the transmission of coronavirus, people could have a more "arts and crafts" approach with gift-giving, or save presents for another time.

Read more: Police step in as huge crowds gather in London and Nottingham