SAGE scientists have warned that spending too long in shops could increase the risk of contracting and dying from coronavirus.
The virus experts recommend shoppers spend no more than 15 minutes in any one store to reduce the risk of being exposed to the deadly Covid-19 virus.
The news comes as the Government confirmed that Santa’s grottos will be allowed to operate across the UK in the coming weeks – although there will be some restrictions.
And although Christmas bubbles will allow family members to mingle on Christmas Day in limited numbers and households, SAGE professor Lucy Yardley also warned spending Christmas with elderly parents is “very risky”.
Speaking on Times Radio on Sunday, the scientist warned the public to be sensible in their approach to the festive season.
She said: "Is it really important for you to share your home for the entire period that's allowed?
"Because that is very risky to older people who are particularly vulnerable to this infection.
"So I think, although we're allowed to do that, and some people will want to do that, the first question to ask yourself is, would it be better to put it off for a few months until they've been vaccinated?
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"Which hopefully, they will be if they're very vulnerable, and do it more safely at that time."
She went on to declare that shoppers should try to carry out shopping tasks as efficiently as possible while the much awaited coronavirus vaccine is rolled out.
She said:"Well, the rule that is useful for contact tracing is that if you spend 15 minutes with somebody closer than two metres, then you have definitely had a potentially infectious contact with them.
"So that's quite a generous amount of time, I am not sure that most of us would need that amount of time in a shop.
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"And really the the less time that you spend in there, the safer you are. If you spend time, close enough to somebody and they happen to bring it on you or call for new, then it doesn't take 15 minutes to catch the virus."
Professor Yardley did at least concede that shopping while social distancing and wearing a mask is: “not the most dangerous thing."
England is due to exit a month long lockdown on December 2 – but there has been some anger over the fact that most of the country will be plunged immediately into Tier 2 or 3 conditions once the lockdown lifts.
Pubs and restaurants will only be able to provide alcohol to those buying ‘substantial meals’ in many areas – with conners that punters will be turfed out once their meal is finished and won’t be allowed to order more drinks to wash it down.
There are also fears the Tier restrictions could remain in place until April – at which time it is hoped the most vulnerable will have been vaccinated and life will finally begin to return to normal.
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested the Tier system could be relaxed within nine weeks if it proves effective – as he attempts to counter rebel MPs challenging the Tier system.
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