As Christmas approached in 2020, it was not a Dickensian spirit but the spectre of Covid that haunted households up and down the UK.
With cases soaring, government-approved plans to allow three households to mix for five days in England were scrapped within weeks of being made, while scientists urged families to connect over Zoom or host drinks on the pavement rather than meeting for a hug.
“There is no point having a very merry Christmas and then burying friends and relations in January and February,” Gabriel Scally, a visiting professor of public health at the University of Bristol, said at the time.
Twelve months on, there has been little word from the UK government about how to safely celebrate Christmas 2021. But scientists say caution remains crucial.
“Rates of transmission are still very high, numbers of Covid weekly deaths continue at around 1,000, the NHS is described by those running it as ‘hitting breaking point’ and ‘unsustainable’, with Covid cases taking up hospital beds with the potential to tip the NHS into crisis. And we haven’t yet hit winter,” said Prof Susan Michie of University College London, a member of the government’s Covid-19 behavioural science team and the Independent Sage group of experts.
vs last week