Brits have been warned they will be burying their relatives and friends in January if coronavirus lockdown restrictions are relaxed for Christmas.
An expert said the country has "not had nine months of sacrifices to throw it away at Christmas" amid the reports the government is considering relaxing measures between December 24 and 28.
SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) scientists have warned that every day "off" from restrictions mean another five days of lockdown will need to be added to offset the spread of the virus. That would equal another month of lockdown.
Professor of public health Gabriel Scally said: "People are talking about needing 25 days of tight restrictions to make up for the five days of jollity over Christmas – and it's not just 25 days, that doesn't matter that much compared to the virus spreading and people getting infected.
"There is no point having a very merry Christmas and then burying friends and relations in January and February.
"We need to think very seriously about Christmas and how we're going to spend it. It's too dangerous a time and an opportunity for the virus to spread."
The government is due to set out measures for relaxing restrictions next week along with plans for what will follow England's national lockdown, which is due to finish on December 2.
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SAGE member Professor Andrew Hayward attacked the government for being "inconsistent" as he said mixing households at Christmas could pose "substantial risks", particularly for elderly people.
Professor Hayward said: "My personal view is we're putting far too much emphasis on having a near-normal Christmas.
"We know respiratory infections peak in January so throwing fuel on the fire over Christmas can only contribute to this."
Today the UK reported another 22,915 new Covid-19 cases with a further 501 deaths.
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