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Dr Hilary Jones has warned that Christmas should not be the exception to coronavirus measures. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was the Government’s “ambition to ensure that people may celebrate Christmas as a family this year”. But speaking on Good Morning Britain, Dr Hilary said: “This is the worst pandemic for over 100 years, we’re still there.
“We can’t rely too heavily on a vaccine. We don’t know whether that will be effective.
“We hope it will save people dying but it probably won’t slow infection rates, not the early vaccines anyway.
“People are working on it around the clock, around the world.
“I think we still need to rely on the basic principles which are hands, face, space and if we all do that and we’re realistic and don’t say Christmas is an exception.
“If we make Christmas an exception, every little celebration will be an exception.
“A birthday, a Friday night, a promotion if you keep making exceptions, that’s how the pandemic spreads and that’s the reality of it.”
But a Government scientific adviser has said the idea that “we can carry on as we are” and have a normal Christmas “is wishful thinking in the extreme”.
Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said “radical action” would be needed to stem the rise in coronavirus cases, particularly in regions with high incidence of the virus.
It comes after Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay said he hoped families would be able to spend Christmas together even if things are not exactly the same.
Asked how he would describe the chances of people having a “normal Christmas” despite COVID-19 restrictions, Mr Barclay told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I would describe it as a shared endeavour for all of us.
“All of us want to be able to enjoy Christmas with our families. And that’s why there is a common purpose here to get the virus down.”
Referring to Christmas, Mr Barclay said: “I think few people expect it to be exactly as it would normally because we will be living with this virus for some time.
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“And the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser have been very clear on that.
“But, your point really was about the ability of families to spend Christmas together – that is something we all hope to be in a position to do.”
However, Prof Edmunds, who told MPs on Wednesday that tens of thousands of deaths could occur during this wave of the pandemic, said further measures are needed to bring cases down.
He said that a circuit-breaker is needed across the whole country or at least in areas where incidence is high.
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