A UK minister has told people not to “misinterpret” Covid guidelines over the Christmas period and remain wary as experts warn that household mixing over the festive period “is a terrible idea.”

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay told Sky News on Tuesday that Britons should not interpret relaxed Covid guidelines as an invitation to do whatever they please over the Christmas period. 

“It is important that people do the minimum that is possible. So, people will be making their own judgments,” Barclay said. 

“It’s not saying that people must go and see family. It’s saying that where families want to see each other, they won’t be criminalised for doing so.”

The minister said that there is a fine balance to be struck in protecting Britons from the coronavirus and looking after people’s mental health, adding that many families have not seen each other all year.
Barclay asserted that he would not be seeing his own parents this year. 

The minister’s comments come one week before the UK is due to relax Covid-19 restrictions for the four-day Christmas period. 

Under plans agreed between London and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, up to three households will be able to mix in a “Christmas bubble” between 23 and 27 December. 

Global Health Professor Dr Devi Sridhar spoke later on Sky News and slammed the government’s message for the Christmas period. 

“Mixing at Christmas is a terrible idea and that should be the message,” she claimed, adding that the government should be telling people to “stay in their local authority.” 

Despite commencing a mass vaccination programme, the UK still faces serious challenges in tackling the pandemic.

On Monday, Health Minister Matt Hancock announced that a new strain of the virus had been identified and may be responsible for the rapid spread of Covid in the South East. 

Hancock also announced that London would be moving into the highest tier of Covid restrictions in the run-up to Christmas; the measures then will resume after December 27. 

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