FAMILIES in Wales have been strongly advised to cancel their Christmas plans after a fresh surge of coronavirus cases.
People across the four nations are set to have restrictions relaxed for five days over the festive season, but the Welsh Government’s top scientists warned against celebrations between different households.
And they said people who are going to see one another should isolate for 1- days before hand – or risk infecting their loved ones.
People across the UK will be able to form “Christmas bubbles” of up to three households from December 23 to December 27.
But scientists from the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) delivered a grim warning, saying Christmas dinners or lunches are “likely to lead to higher deaths and hospitalisations after Christmas”.
They warned: “If people can avoid seeing others over the Christmas period, perhaps postponing celebrations until later next year or meeting remotely, then this is strongly advised.
“Pre-isolation may be a helpful consideration for families with children before visiting older relatives.
“Similarly, in occupations where there is a higher odds ratio of infection, pre-isolation before mixing with older adults may reduce the risk of transmission.”
The “best way” to keep older family members safe is “not to expose them to potential infection”, the scientists warned, saying it didn’t matter how “well intended” the reason for contact was.
Wales is already under draconian restrictions, with pubs and restaurants required to close from 6pm, and a nationwide booze ban was also slapped on hospitality venues.
Off-licenses and supermarkets are still able to sell alcohol.
And the scientists recommended even more dreary rules, with a Tiered system similar to England which would close pubs and restaurants entirely in the areas with the worst infection rates.
First Minister Mark Drakeford ruled out any further toughening of the restrictions before Christmas, but warned further measures could be brought in afterwards.
Only one local authority in Wales has not shown a rising number of new cases, with some areas jumping to 500 Covid infections per 100,000.
Wales came out of a three week “firebreak” lockdown on November 9, and fears are growing it could be thrown into another shutdown.
Mr Drakeford said: “These are incredibly serious figures.
“The measures we take are simply proportionate to the scale of the difficulty we face and we have to act together, each one of us in our own lives, to do the right things that will bring the virus under control.
“Then we will have a path into next year that is different.
“In the meantime, nobody should underestimate the seriousness of the position we are facing in Wales.”