BMA urges people to keep festive mixing to a minimum to avoid putting loved ones at risk of getting Covid

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Wednesday 16 December 2020

The Covid rules in England for Christmas may not have changed, but our behaviour still can, is the message from the BMA. The Association says people need to make the right choices – keep mixing indoors to an absolute minimum over the festive period and not necessarily bringing together three households just because they can. In addition, there is a plea to adhere, 100 per cent, to the rules of the Tier in which they live both before and after the five-day window.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“Relaxing the rules will, without doubt, cost lives and the impact on the NHS in the New Year will be grave. For those reasons, as the voice of thousands of doctors, we urge people to think long and hard about how many people they share their Christmas with. The mixing of households, particularly if this includes elderly people or those with underlying conditions puts those members at huge risk from contracting Covid and becoming seriously ill or even dying. None of us would knowingly wish our loved ones to suffer or put their lives at risk and it is vital that we all take precautions to protect each other.

“The BMA believes the Prime Minister should have used today as an opportunity to restrict the relaxations in order to protect people in England – as we have seen the Government in Wales do. However, without this change, we as doctors are urging that people avoid meeting unless absolutely necessary.

“If they must, it is crucial they do so as safely as possible. Maintaining social distancing indoors, use of masks if not able to, and ensuring ventilation of rooms are ways to reduce spread.

“As doctors we are also concerned about how our NHS will cope with another surge of infections. Our hospitals are already struggling to cope, with huge waiting lists including a backlog of millions of patients with non-Covid conditions, who have not been treated since the pandemic. We have far fewer beds available than last year at this time1 and this is without factoring in the additional demand we see during winter months. The NHS has never been tested to this level and we simply don’t know how or if it will be able to cope if there is a third wave of infections.

“Without a change in the rules in England, personal judgement is key and, as doctors, we implore everyone to keep mixing to a minimum, mix for as short a time as possible, and do so safely – including avoiding travel between tiers.”

Ends

Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. As of Q2 2020/21 there were 120,828 beds in the NHS in England, compared to 127,186 in Q2 2019/20, a drop of 6,358. Source.