‘Don’t be stupid’: Chris Whitty says don’t hug elderly relatives 'if you want them to survive'

Prof Chris Whitty: 'Don't do stupid things.' (PA)
Prof Chris Whitty: 'Don't do stupid things.' (PA)
  • In dire festive warning, Chris Whitty warns people not to hug elderly relatives at Christmas “if you want them to survive”

  • England’s chief medical officer says “it doesn’t make sense”

  • It comes ahead of five-day UK-wide easing of coronavirus measures over Christmas

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Chris Whitty has warned people not to hug elderly relatives this Christmas “if you want them to survive”.

Prof Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, told people not to “do stupid things” at Thursday’s Downing Street press conference and said of close contact with older family members: “It doesn’t make sense.”

It comes ahead of the five-day UK-wide easing of coronavirus measures over Christmas, in which three households will be allowed to mix.

Prof Whitty said: “The way to make sure that Christmas can both be enjoyed, but does not lead to a very large kick up in the virus, is to make sure people are very serious going into it.

“Follow the guidance. Buy into it. Take it really seriously during Christmas, don’t do stupid things. Don’t do unnecessary things just because you can.”

Prof Whitty, later asked what he meant by “unnecessary things”, then used the example of close contact with elderly relatives.

“Would I want someone to see their family? Of course, that’s what Christmas is about… but would I encourage someone to hug and kiss their elderly relatives? No, I would not.

Watch: What do we know about the Christmas bubble rules?

“It’s not against the law. You can do it within the rules that are there, but it does not make sense because you could be carrying the virus and if you’ve got an elderly relative, that would not be a thing you’d want to do.

“People just have to have sense and I think this is very much what people will do. The fact that you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”

He later added distancing from elderly relatives is necessary “if you want them to survive to be hugged again”.

The press conference was held after the government announced which tiers of local restrictions each area of England will face after the national lockdown ends on 2 December.

Prof Whitty suggested he expected more areas to move into the least severe Tier 1 if and when a vaccine is rolled out.

“Assuming they get approved by the regulator – I really want to put that caveat in as a very important one – we would expect there to be a situation where little-by-little, bits of the country can start to sort of walk out of this, down the tiers, as we head towards a period where we hope the restrictions will be very substantially less than they are at the moment.”

Read more:

The Tier 3 COVID lockdown rules explained

The Tier 2 COVID lockdown rules explained

What tier are you in? Full list of lockdown areas

Watch: How England's new three-tier COVID system will work