Swap Christmas dinner indoors for 'picnics in the park' to stop Covid spread, says WHO's Europe chief

BRITS should swap Christmas dinners indoors for picnics in the park to stop Covid spreading, a top health boss says.

Dr Hans Kluge, the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Europe chief said this year would be a "different Christmas but that does not mean it cannot be a merry one."

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He told families to brave plunging yuletide temperatures and celebrate outside instead.

Last year temperatures were as low as minus 3C in parts of the UK on Christmas morning. The daytime temperature only reached around 8C.

And he insisted if 95 per cent of people wore masks Covid lockdowns could be avoided.

It comes after a leading UK scientist warned household mixing at Christmas could see families "burying relations in January".

WHO official Dr Kluge said: "Cherish the festive season with those close to you.


"If it's a large gathering of vulnerable people, you may postpone that gathering until you can safely gather."

He added: "Despite the cold, if local restrictions permit, gather outside with loved ones for picnics in the park."

Ladbrokes was offering odds of 6/4 for snow to fall anywhere in England on Christmas Day.

Dr Kluge pointed out that religious festivals like Ramadan and Diwali had been celebrated this year with virtual gatherings and "distance celebrations".

UK deaths rose by 529 yesterday bringing Britain's total number of deaths to 53,274.

This week, The Sun revealed plans being considered to save the nation's Christmas that could allow families to enjoy a five-day free pass to celebrate together.

Despite the cold, if local restrictions permit, gather outside with loved ones for picnics in the park.

The government hopes to relax lockdown restrictions to allow up to four households to meet over the festive period.

But plans for a five-day reprieve starting on Christmas Eve have been criticised by health experts.

Earlier today, Professor Gabriel Scally told Good Morning Britain the move posed "substantial risks" and would "throw fuel on the fire" of the pandemic.

He said "There is no point in having a very merry Christmas and then burying friends and relations in January and February."

He said Christmas would be a "dangerous time" and allow the "virus to spread".

Prof Scally, a member of Independent Sage – a rival group to the Government's own advisers – added: "We need to think very seriously about Christmas and how we're going to spend it.

"It’s too dangerous a time and opportunity for the virus to spread."

Yesterday, Public Health England (PHE)'s Dr Susan Hopkins claimed we would need "two days of tighter measures" for every day we ease lockdown after December 2.

But PHE later clarified it was five days, meaning Brits faced 25 days of lockdown for five days with their relatives.

Earlier this week Dr Hopkins warned a tougher tier system would likely replace national shutdown after December 2.

She said: "We see very little effect from Tier 1. When we look at what the Tiers may be in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months.

Dr Hopkins suggested "if the lockdown is working, we will start to see cases decline over the next week".

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