For every day COVID rules are relaxed in England over Christmas, an additional five days of tighter restrictions may be required, according to leading scientists.
The latest recommendations from the government’s advisory board Sage have suggested that even a short five-day break over the festive period could mean an extra month in lockdown to compensate.
Public Health England clarified the data following a press conference on Wednesday from medical adviser Dr Susan Hopkins – who claimed tighter rules could be needed before and after the holidays if Christmas was to be “as normal as possible.”
Speaking at Downing Street, Dr Hopkins said: “Hopefully, the government will make a decision that will allow us to have some mixing, but we will wait and see what that is.
“…I think once we have got past the Christmas period, if there’s been a release on some socialisation, we will all have to be very responsible and reduce contacts again.”
There have been calls for all four nations in Britain to adopt a united approach towards Christmas rules – enabling smoother travel between borders.
Early reports have suggested that more social mixing may be permitted over the holidays – even if only for a few days.
According to the BBC, families will be urged to avoid large gatherings.
It is also expected the government will recommend travel by car rather than public transport.
But Business Secretary Alok Sharma said it was too early to lay out the rules.
“Christmas is of course going to happen come what may,” he said.
“I would love to have members of my family round, but we just have to wait and see where we’re at.”
England is expected to return to its tier system when lockdown ends on December 2.
Local area categorisations and tier rules are currently “under review” according to ministers.