Christmas shoppers shouldn’t spend longer than 15 minutes in a store to reduce the risk of catching Covid-19, a Government scientist has warned.
SAGE professor Lucy Yardley also warned spending Christmas with elderly parents is ‘very risky’.
Speaking to Times Radio, she urged people to “take a step back” and think before visiting elderly relatives over the festive period.
“Is it really important for you to share your home for the entire period that’s allowed?” she said. “Because that is very risky to older people who are particularly vulnerable to this infection.
“So I think, although we’re allowed to do that, and some people will want to do that, the first question to ask yourself is, would it be better to put it off for a few months until they’ve been vaccinated?
“Which hopefully, they will be if they’re very vulnerable, and do it more safely at that time.”
She also suggested limiting the amount of time spent inside shops during the holiday season.
Asked how long is too long, she said: “Well, the rule that is useful for contact tracing is that if you spend 15 minutes with somebody closer than two metres, then you have definitely had a potentially infectious contact with them.
“So that’s quite a generous amount of time, I am not sure that most of us would need that amount of time in a shop.
“And really the the less time that you spend in there, the safer you are. If you spend time, close enough to somebody and they happen to bring it on you or call for new, then it doesn’t take 15 minutes to catch the virus.”
But she said as long as people stick to social distancing rules and wear masks while indoors, Christmas shopping is “not the most dangerous thing.”
Her warning comes after former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said it was “wrong” of Boris Johnson to relax rules over Christmas.
Lord Lansley, who was health chief under David Cameron, admitted his view may make him sound like the Grinch.
But he said it was “wrong” for household mixing to be allowed for five days over the Christmas period.
Asked if he thought the loosening of restrictions was an error, he said: “Yeah. Makes me feel like the Grinch. But I think the short answer is yes, I think it was wrong.”