'Isolate from now and don't stay overnight if you want to save Christmas'

The Prime Minister has urged the British public to take a host of precautions before Christmas, after refusing to relax coronavirus curbs over the festive period.

Boris Johnson suggested avoiding overnight stays, cutting contacts before meeting people and spending less time together. He said a smaller, shorter Christmas would be a safer one.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty urged people to ‘keep it small, keep it short and keep it local’, as well as considering vulnerable people.

Admitting that the situation with Covid-19 was ‘worse’ than when the rules were set, at a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Johnson said: ‘While it would not be right to criminalise people who made plans and simply want to spend time with their loved ones, we’re collectively, across the UK, governments at every level, asking you to think hard and in detail about the days ahead.

‘We’re keeping the laws the same but we all want to send the same message: a smaller Christmas is going to be a safer Christmas and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas.

‘When we say three households can meet on five days I want to stress these are maximums and not targets to aim for.’

It comes after the Government defied pressure from health experts to scrap an easing of restrictions that allows three households to mix for five days. There have been repeated warnings that the relaxation will lead to a new spike in cases and deaths, and possibly a new lockdown.

Mr Johnson continued: ‘It’s always going to be safest to minimise the number of people you meet. That means if you are visiting others over Christmas we’re asking you in the five days beforehand, as early as this Friday, to reduce the number of people you are in contact with to the lowest possible.

‘If possible don’t travel from a high prevalence to a lower prevalence area and avoid staying away from home overnight if you can.’

This is a breaking story – more to follow.

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