Scientists Pressure Brits to Cancel Christmas, Have Summer Party Instead

A man dressed as Santa Claus walks past a closed Christmas shop in central Glasgow ahead o
ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Government scientific advisers and other scientists are telling Britons that they should postpone celebrations during the holy period and have a summer party next year, instead.

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his proposal to let Englishmen have five days of freedom later this month, he is expected to advise citizens not to travel outside of their local area. He will also tell people to refrain from visiting their elderly relatives, many of whom have been trapped in varying degrees of isolation since March.

Government scientific advisers, meanwhile, have told Britons to cancel Christmas, simply replacing it with a “get-together” in Summer, according to a Times report from Wednesday.

John Edmunds of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a member of the influential Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said: “Just because we can meet up with two other households, it doesn’t mean that we should. So it might be best to postpone meeting up with vulnerable relatives for another month or two, when hopefully they will be protected via the vaccination programme.”

Robert West, of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B), said that the government should urge against meeting relatives at all, with the group recommending “a summer family get-together to replace meeting at Christmas”.

Several other academics have told either Britons or the government to postpone celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ.

Cambridge University’s Shaun Fitzgerald said Britons should “postpone doing so [meeting family] until later in 2021 when hopefully more people are vaccinated”. However, according to government bodies, full vaccination could take a year or even two.

Fitzgerald, like SAGE’s Graham Medley and the World Health Organization, also said that families meet outside in late December rather than in the warmth of their homes.

Manchester University’s Ashley Woodcock said that “the government should designate a day in 2021, after the vulnerable population in the UK have been vaccinated, to celebrate”.

University of Edinburgh’s Linda Bauld has also advised Britons to postpone their celebrations, and if not, hold them in “most modest way possible”.

While Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick claimed that “Easter can be the new Christmas”, saying: “Why not wait and get the family back together in 2021?”

On Tuesday, London’s Labour mayor, Sadiq Khan, criticised the government for its decision to relax coronavirus restrictions and told people that even if the Johnson administration does not change the rules, “my message… is we’re under no obligation to do all that’s allowed, there’s no reason you have to kiss or hug an older relation”.

Last month, Prime Minister Johnson announced that between December 23rd and 27th inclusive, coronavirus restrictions would be relaxed across England.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage has condemned the government for taking the attitude that Christmas and Britons’ freedom is for it to give.

“It’s this whole idea that they own Christmas, they own our freedom, and they’re going to give us a few days when we can get together and celebrate Christmas,” Mr Farage said earlier this month, adding: “I just feel that is all the wrong way round.”

“The problem with this, of course, is that history shows that government in crises — be it war or whatever else it is — are very good at taking power for themselves, but very much less good at giving it back when those crises are over. There are some real long-term battles to be fought here,” he warned.


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