Government officials are pushing for restrictions to be imposed to limit singing, dancing, hugging family members, and even playing board games inside the home over Christmas.
The calls came this week from the UK’s scientific advisory committee Sage.
In bleak midwinter news for those looking forward to turkey and trimmings on Christmas Day, as the British public is also being warned not to spend too long enjoying their festive dinner.
People are also being told to consider using place names to avoid contamination at the dinner table.
According to Sage, Britons must even be on their guard when it comes to washing up.
Scientists warned that people must not “let their guard down with those they are closest to” while “enjoying” the festivities.
And they should consider self-isolating for two weeks both before and after the five-day “Christmas bubble” break to minimize the risk of spreading the virus, according to The Daily Mail.
In a raft of documents yesterday, the scientists warned that any relaxation of restrictions over the festive period could result in a “large rise” in transmission rates which could ultimately see the prevalence of the virus “easily double.”
The advice was revealed yesterday in documents that were discussed at meetings held between October 29 and earlier this week.
One document, titled Key Evidence and Advice on Celebrations and Observances during Covid-19, said: “Avoid repeated and extended overnight stays.
“If possible and circumstances allow, self-quarantine for two weeks before and after visit.”
It added that maintaining existing “bubbles” rather than creating new ones could also help.
Separate documents, meanwhile, suggested families should implement a series of rules around the home – including who does the washing up.
Scientists said those meeting up would “let their guard down with those they are closest to.”
The elaborate guidance, which is from recommendations by Sage sub-committees but has not been formally adopted, suggested people should use place names to position themselves safely at the dinner table and reduce the use of shared serving spoons.
It said that meals should be kept as short as possible and that whoever is clearing up should be vigilant when putting dishes in the dishwasher.
Hugs, kisses, and handshakes are best avoided, with gestures such as “elbow bumps or air greetings” used instead.
It suggested families should be told to avoid board games in which objects are shared, advising non-contact entertainment such as quizzes.
In what may be a disappointment or relief, karaoke is not recommended – with singing and physical activities such as dancing to be shunned.
Anyone determined to undertake a festive singalong should reduce their volume, think about opening windows to prevent droplets from spreading, and possibly even wear a facemask.
The guidance was compiled for Sage by the Environmental and Modelling Group and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B).
It calls for bubbles to create a timetable setting out how they will interact, encouraging people to behave as though one of the group is infected.
Wherever possible, those in the central household should try to use a different bathroom from their visitors.
The document acknowledges that the guidance will be more difficult to follow for those in lower-income groups and in smaller houses, and suggests assistance should be provided.
Papers also reveal that scientists raised concerns a Christmas “amnesty” increases the risk that people stop taking the rules seriously afterward.
A document from November 5 reads: “If guidelines are relaxed for some festivals, some may reason that this can be applied to other celebrations.”
However, the scientists conceded that keeping strict rules in place over Christmas could become a source of anger, and it may result in celebrations turning into a “site of resistance.”
They do point out that one of the main challenges when it comes to festive crackdowns will be enforcement, adding that policing behaviors in private homes is “almost impossible.”