Christmas dinner creates ‘perfect conditions’ for Covid to spread, warns top doc

Families sitting down for Christmas dinner create "perfect conditions" for Covid to spread, a professor of psychology who branded the festive season a "gift" to the virus has warned.

Brits are less than a week away from a five-day break from localised Tier restrictions imposed by the Government in fast-spreading areas.

The allowance has received a lot of criticism from top doctors and ministers who claim the holiday period could be a serious mistake.

Professor Stephen Reicher, from the University of St Andrews, told Times Radio on Saturday that Christmas dinner will to create a perfect environment for the virus to spread, especially as alcohol is likely to be involved.

He told the programme: "Christmas is a gift to the virus.

"If you want the perfect conditions for the spread of the virus it would be to be indoors, somewhere that wasn't well ventilated, somewhere which was crowded, somewhere where there's alcohol so that we forget our inhibitions, and that describes perfectly the Christmas dinner."

Prof Reicher, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), which advises Sage, added: "Of course we don't want to give gifts to this virus, we want to look after ourselves, and the best way of doing that, I think, is sadly to postpone if we can.

"I recognise that for some families it does make sense to meet up – I mean, if you've got an elderly relative who might not see another Christmas or somebody who's suffering greatly, there will be exceptions."

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He also argued that current limitations for relaxed measures was important, but said the five-day rule is "too long."

Prof Reicher said: "If we turn the exception into the rule and if many people meet, then we really are heading towards a disaster."

The expert also said the real risk is people travelling from different parts of the country to see loved ones as it recedes progress in areas where Covid rates aren't an issue.

He said: "The real problem here is, of course, that if you mix everything up – mix up high levels and low levels (of infection) – then you reseed the infection in areas that it is not as prevalent in and you just relaunch the pandemic."

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