Shoppers are being urged to avoid spending more than 15 minutes doing their Christmas shopping in person by a professor on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which advises the government on its Covid-19 restrictions.
SAGE professor Lucy Yardley states that the less time spent in a shop, “the safer you are.”
Her comments come ahead of the end of England’s second national lockdown. Across the UK, non-essential shops will be open to the public as the festive season gets underway.
‘Potentially infectious contact’
Speaking on Times Radio, Yardley said, “The rule that is used 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.
“That is 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 less time you spend in there, the safer you are.”
The SAGE adviser added that members of the public need to be extra cautious when out and about, and that we should continue to wear masks and socially distancing whilst shopping.
She said, “If everybody does actually wear masks, have plenty of ventilation, keep two metres apart, not spend too long in a shop because the longer you are in there, the higher the risk, then actually sort of nipping out for a bit of Christmas shopping is not one of the most dangerous things you can do.”
Third wave of the pandemic
Another SAGE member, professor Andrew Hayward, has warned that the planned relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions over Christmas could trigger a third wave of the pandemic.
Speaking to BBC2’s Newsnight, he said, “Effectively what this will be doing is throwing fuel on the Covid fire.
“I think it will definitely lead to increased transmission. It is likely to lead to a third wave of infection, with hospitals being overrun, and more unnecessary deaths.
“We are still in a country where we have got high levels of infection with Covid, particularly in young people.
“Bringing them together for hours, let alone days, with elderly relatives, I think, is a recipe for regret for many families.
“With the vaccine on the way, if we are not very careful over Christmas, we are really in danger of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory on this one.”