Families across the country will be overjoyed after the Government announced that three households will be able to mix for five days over Christmas.

The UK’s four nations said this year’s celebrations won’t be ‘normal’, but after thrashing out a joint deal, households will be allowed to form ‘bubbles’ between December 23 and 27.

With the exception of the Christmas break, most of England is expected to be put straight back onto the higher levels of a stricter three tier system when lockdown ends on December 2.

After nearly three weeks since the nationwide restrictions were imposed, the Department of Health reported a significant drop in case numbers today.



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But experts, including Professor Paul Hunter of the Norwich School of Medicine, University of East Anglia, warn they could go right back up as a result of easing the rules over Christmas.

He said: ‘Any relaxation of the restrictions over the Christmas period will almost inevitably lead to some increase in transmission and therefore, illness, hospitalisations and sadly deaths.

‘The issue is whether that increased risk is tolerable in relation to the benefits. At that time schools will be closed so there would naturally be some downward pressure on transmission.

‘Also if the new tier system is working well and local authorities are placed into a more appropriate tier this time around then there will be a downward pressure on transmission before and after the Christmas break.

‘The benefits on people’s mental health of being to meet up with family over this time should not be underestimated. Carley and colleagues undertook a systematic review of the literature and found that suicides declined over Christmas.

‘My personal view is that some relaxation of the rules in line with what is currently being reported will have sufficient benefits to justify the additional risks for the COVID epidemic.

‘Providing that the new tier system is better managed than in October any increase in cases could be relatively short lived. After Christmas we will still have to live through a few more months of restrictions at least.

‘Christmas whether or not we celebrate the day as a religious festival may be what we need to make it through the rest of winter.’

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