Top medical experts have slammed the government for relaxing COVID-19 restrictions over Christmas saying the decision is a “mistake”.

They are calling on members of the public to have rethink their festive plans and avoid seeing family members as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Professor Devi Sridhar, the chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, said: “If people [aren’t] cautious, then we will pay for our Christmas parties with January and February lockdowns. With a vaccine just weeks away, why risk infecting vulnerable and elderly people we love?”

Professor Stephen Reicher, Government advisor in the SAGE sub-group dedicated to ensuring the following of public health measures, added: “There may be circumstances where there are other factors that make you think it is worth taking that risk – but people have got to do it knowing and being clear about what the risk is.”

Linda Bauld, of the University of Edinburgh, has also echoed the concerns telling BBC Breakfast that letting people meet up over Christmas is a huge error.

She said: “I think people have to think very carefully whether they can see loved ones outside, or do it in a very modest way. I’m also concerned about the travel, people going from high to low-prevalence areas.

“I think it’s going to have consequences. I completely understand why governments are doing that. Behaviourally people are fed up.

“From a public health perspective, I have to be perfectly honest, I think this is a mistake.”

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