Can I hug my grandparents at Christmas?

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COVID-19 continues to tear through the UK just one week before the national lockdown expires. Ministers will plunge England back into tiered control from December 2, but give regions the chance to lower restrictions before Christmas, and a brief week-long respite. But the Government’s Christmas plans will potentially come into force for Tier 3 regions with a high case rate, meaning incoming modifications to family bubbles could pose a risk to vulnerable members.

Can you hug your grandparents at Christmas?

Announcing a coronavirus pact with four nations leaders earlier this week, the Prime Minister said people could combine up to three bubbles this Christmas.

The Christmas bubble then allows up to three households to mix between December 23 and 27, which people cannot alternate once picked.

While it will provide people room to celebrate reminiscent of non-pandemic tradition, it also comes with a set of risks.

Speaking from Downing Street this week, Mr Johnson warned the virus would not “grant a Christmas truce”, and urged people to make a “careful judgement” about meeting elderly relatives.

COVID-19 fatality rates shoot up for people aged over 60, with elderly populations most likely to experience severe bouts with the disease.

As such, Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, has advised people joining bubbles for Christmas against contact with potentially vulnerable relatives.

He told the press conference he would not advise people to embrace them if they come over.

He said: “Would I encourage someone to hug and kiss their elderly relatives?

“No, I would not…If you want them to survive to be hugged again.”

He also pleaded with the general public not to take liberties with the new guidance.

Mr Whitty added: “Don’t do stupid things. Don’t do unnecessary things just because the rules say you can.”

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The Government has since released advice for elderly or extremely vulnerable people ahead of Christmas.

In their advice posted to, ministers said elderly people looking to enter into a combined bubble must take extra care.

The advice reads: “You can choose to be part of a Christmas bubble if you are clinically extremely vulnerable, but it does involve greater risks for you as you will be increasing the number of people you have contact with.

“You will continue to minimise your risk of infection if you limit social contact with people that you do not live with, even at Christmas.”

“It is important that you and the other people in your Christmas bubble consider these risks carefully before agreeing to form a bubble.

“Forming a Christmas bubble is a personal choice and should be balanced against the increased risk of infection.

“If you do decide to form a Christmas bubble it is advised that you maintain social distance from those you don’t normally live with at all times, avoiding physical contact.”

The Government added people living in a care home should only form a bubble with one other household to reduce chances of infection.

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