Families urged not to play board games at Christmas amid fears of Covid-19 spread

Scientists said families should avoid playing board games at Christmas (Image: Getty Images)

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Scientists have urged families to avoid playing board games at Christmas in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus.

Earlier this week, the Government confirmed that up to three households will be allowed to meet from December 23 to December 27, with restrictions being temporarily lifted for the festive reason.

But Sage, the Government's scientific advisory committee, has warned the easing of restrictions could cause a rise in the number of positive Covid-19 cases.

Scientists said families should be as careful as possible and avoid close contact – such as passing objects to each other or touching the same surfaces – with those from different households.

Children should not share their bedroom with kids from different households, scientists have said (file photo)
(Image: Getty Images)

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In its advice, Sage said people should be aware of the risk of spreading the virus when playing board games which involve a lot of shared pieces.

They have suggested families could choose to try quiz games instead.

In a document released this week, scientists said: "Transmission through contaminated surfaces. Games that may be traditionally played such as board games, cards, etc, giving of gifts, sharing of objects and vessels during religious observances.

"Direct evidence for fomite transmission is limited, however viral RNA has been found on high touch surfaces in close proximity to infected people and there is evidence that shared cigarettes and drinking vessels are associated transmission.

"High touch objects that are shared would increase potential for fomite transmission."

Scientists have warned that touching the same objects may lead to an increase in transmission of Covid-19
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Scientists suggested that alternatively people could choose "activities for those that minimise sharing of objects, for example through playing quiz-based games rather than those which involved lots of shared game pieces".

If sleeping at their relatives' home, children should share the bedroom with their parents rather than with other kids from different households, Sage's advice added.

Scientists have also asked Brits to avoid having close contact with vulnerable people, suggesting children should meet their grandparents outdoors where possible.

Sage scientists have also said that increased hygiene, such as wiping down worktops, door handles and chairs could help curb the spread of the virus.

A document named 'Insights on Celebrations and Observances during COVID-19' added: "Additional interactions occur when sharing food and drink, exchanging gifts, hugging, singing, or praying with family, friends, and neighbours."

During a Downing Street conference this week, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said Brits should avoid hugging their relatives.

Asked by the Mirror's deputy political editor Ben Glaze about the relaxation of the Covid measures over the festive period, Professor Whitty said: "Would I say people should hug and kiss their elderly relatives, no I would not."

He added: "They want to survive to get hugged again."

Chris Whitty said Brits should avoid hugging their relatives at Christmas
(Image: Getty Images)

Sage said in another document: "People should understand that there is risk in visiting their older loved ones, those risks can be decreased by minimising other contacts in the week preceding a visit.

"Socialising before seeing older relatives is more risky than doing so afterwards."

Yesterday morning, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News families should open their windows if eating together at Christmas to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

He said: "There are lots of different options, from the whole family coming together at home, to perhaps meeting up for lunch with the windows open, or going out for a walk on Christmas Day."

The latest Sage advice about Christmas has been criticised for sexism after a document was published saying that "women carry the burden of organising the family and Christmas traditions during the festive holiday".

It continues: "Messaging should be supportive of women adapting traditions and encouraging those around them to share the burden and to be supportive of any alterations to adapt for Covid-19 restrictions."

All four UK nations have agreed to relax the coronavirus restrictions for five days over Christmas to allow three households to form a "bubble" together.

Christmas bubbles will have to be exclusive over the five-day period, meaning people are not allowed to move from a three-house group to another.

The households deciding to spend the festive period together will be able to gather in private homes, go to outdoor public spaces and places of worship together.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned people of the risks involved when meeting and urged them to be "jolly careful", but said he is determined to give people a chance to meet up.

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