It comes after Dr Susan Hopkins earlier suggested just two days were needed and suggests a five day relaxation over Christmas could lead to 25 days of strict measures

senior medical adviser has said for every day that coronavirus measures are relaxed over Christmas , five days of tighter measures will be required.

Public Health England (PHE) director Dr Susan Hopkins initially told a Downing Street press briefing that two days of tougher measures would be required to make up for one day of relaxed restrictions.

Following the briefing on Wednesday, PHE said Dr Hopkins had misspoken and scientists had actually suggested one day of greater freedom required five days of restrictions.

“Some of the Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) advice previously suggested that for every day we release we will need five days of tighter restrictions, so coming into Christmas we need to be very careful about the number of contacts we have to reduce transmission before Christmas and get our cases as low as possible,” said Dr Hopkins.

“Hopefully the Government will make the decision that will allow us to have some mixing… and once we have got past the Christmas period, if there has been some release and some socialisation, we will all have to be very responsible and reduce those contacts again.”

It could mean  five days of relaxed measures starting on Christmas Eve to allow families to be together over the festive period reportedly being considered by ministers could lead to 25 days of strict measures or further lockdown.

The senior medical adviser to the Government’s Covid-19 response warned the public would need to make “every effort” to keep coronavirus cases low in December in order to gather at Christmas.

She said: “We are very keen that we have a Christmas as close to normal as possible.

“That requires all of us to make every effort over this national restriction period and even in early December to get the cases as low as possible and to reduce the risk of transmission within households and between families.

“A final decision will rest with the Government and we look forward to hearing what those plans are.”

It comes as ministers work out what new tiers should replace the previous system once England emerges from the current lockdown on December 2.

Scientists including Dr Hopkins have said the previous Tier 1 had very little effect on reducing coronavirus cases, with the highest impact found from enhanced restrictions in Tier 3 areas.

Deputy chief scientific adviser Dame Angela McLean told Wednesday’s briefing the Sage had been examining a potential relaxation of measures over Christmas.

She said: “We did send some advice in over the weekend, but we genuinely don’t know what decisions have been made.”

Asked whether household mixing could be allowed if there were other trade-offs, Dame Angela said: “What’s really important is we go into a festive week, when we want to mix with our friends and our family, with the number of infections in the community as low as possible.”

She said the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in the community had risen steeply in September and October but had now slowed down.

Some areas with high levels of infection had already started to see a drop before the lockdown was brought in on November 5, she added.

“What you see is, even before national restrictions were brought in, in the parts of the country where the amount of infections was already very high the progress of the epidemic had already flattened off – that’s the North West and Yorkshire and Humber.

“Those also happen to include the parts of the country that were under Tier 3 restrictions, so that’s good news that some parts of the country have already flattened off.”

The latest reproduction rate – the R value – of the virus is still above one, according to most recent estimates, meaning the disease is still spreading.

Dame Angela said it would not be a problem for easing England’s lockdown if the R rate remained above one next week, due to the lag in calculating the value.


News – Each day of ‘relaxed’ Xmas curbs needs FIVE days of tighter measures