Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC's Newsnight "it will definitely lead to increased transmission", adding: "It is likely to lead to a third wave of infection, with hospitals being overrun, and more unnecessary deaths". Bringing them together for hours, let alone days, with elderly relatives, I think, is a recipe for regret for many families.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acknowledged the risks involved in a Christmas relaxation, saying it is the "season to be jolly careful", but is determined to give families the chance to meet up at the end of a grim year.
Last night (25 November) it was confirmed that an arrangement between Westminster and devolved nations had been agreed to allow an easing of social restrictions between 23 to 27 December.
There is good news for families with children at university, as the Government said students studying away from home will be counted as part of one household with their parents if they travel home before the five-day period. The Cabinet Office minister said the temporary relaxing of social distancing rules would "offer hope for families and friends who have made many sacrifices over this hard year". "Relaxing the rules on indoor mixing for a 5-day period will nearly certainly carry risk of a rise in infection rates and possibly more hospitalisation and deaths, adding further pressure on the health service, doctors and NHS staff".
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"The priority now must be to support the public to adhere to stringent rules around physical distancing and infection control to drive down the infection rates further by Christmas".
However, restrictive rules on hospitality and meeting in other venues will be maintained throughout this period.
Trade body the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has labelled the decision not to relax the restrictions on hospitality over the Christmas period a "mockery" and demanded the Government fully compensate businesses for the trade they will lose as a result.