The relaxation of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas will increase infections by “potentially a large amount”, the government’s scientific advisers have warned.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said the prevalence of Covid-19 “could easily double” over the festive period with “substantial mixing” of people.
The warning comes in a document called “notes on festive period”, which was published for the first time on Friday.
“Any relaxation over festive period will result in increased transmission and increased prevalence, potentially by a large amount,” the paper says.
“A parallel can be drawn, albeit on a different scale, between the return of students in autumn and people from different households mixing intensively over Christmas.”
SAGE says that “substantial mixing of people over a short period of time, especially those who do not make contact regularly during a month represents a significant risk for wide-spread transmission”.
“The prevalence could easily double during a few days of festive season, with further multiplicative increases as new infections go back to their ‘routine’ networks,” it adds.
Coronavirus rules will be relaxed over the festive season across the UK with people allowed to celebrate in three-household “Christmas bubbles” with their families.
Between 23 and 27 December, people will be able to meet with two other households to form one Christmas bubble – but only in a private home, a place of worship or public outdoor spaces.