Scientists urge families to wear face masks while celebrating Christmas at home

16 December 2020, 11:43 | Updated: 16 December 2020, 11:54

Families are being urged to keep their masks on this Christmas
Families are being urged to keep their masks on this Christmas. Picture: Getty Images

The World Health Organisation is urging people to stay safe when mixing with families over Christmas.

Christmas will certainly look different this year, with thousands of people unable to see their loved ones due to the pandemic.

But while relaxed rules across the UK allow three families to meet over the festive period, now health officials are suggesting people wear masks if they are mixing.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging people to be sensible for Christmas family gatherings across Europe, and face coverings could help minimise the risk of Covid spreading.

The WHO has advised keeping masks on over Christmas dinner
The WHO has advised keeping masks on over Christmas dinner. Picture: Getty Images

New guidance issued on Wednesday says: “Indoor gatherings, even smaller ones, can be especially risky because they bring together groups of people, young and old, from different households, who may not all be adhering to the same infection prevention measures.

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“Gatherings should be held outside if possible, and participants should wear masks and maintain physical distancing.

“If held indoors, limiting group size and ensuring good ventilation to reduce exposure risk are key.

“It may feel awkward to wear masks and practise physical distancing when around friends and family, but doing so contributes significantly to ensuring that everyone remains safe and healthy.”

In the UK, between 23 and 27 December, three households can form a ‘Christmas bubble’ which means they can mix indoors and stay overnight.

According to government guidelines, those who are in the same bubble will be allowed to meet each other:

- In each other's homes

- At a place of worship

- In an outdoor public space, or garden

WHO scientists previously suggested ditching traditional roast dinners for picnics in the park to stop coronavirus spreading.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently facing pressure to reverse this rule change, as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country.

But reports suggest he is standing by the relaxation, with the PM's spokesperson confirming: "We have set out the Christmas guidance and we have been clear around the need for people to remain cautious and vigilant throughout the Christmas period...

"As we have done throughout the pandemic we keep all advice under constant review."

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