The World Health Organisation’s regional director for Europe has called for Christmas park trips (Image: Getty Images/Cultura RF)

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Brits should opt for a picnic in the park rather than a festive meal indoors this Christmas, a top health expert has said.

Dr Hans Kluge, World Health Organisation regional director for Europe, has urged people to avoid large gatherings indoors this festive period.

Rather than breaking the wishbone over the dining table on Christmas Day, the Belgian has suggested that people should go al-fresco.

He said: "If it's a large gathering of vulnerable people, you may postpone that gathering until you can safely gather.

"Despite the cold, if local restrictions permit, gather outside with loved ones for picnics in the park."

Large gatherings indoor could lead to increased infections
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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Dr Kluge went on to point out many marked other religious festivals, including the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the Hindu festival Diwali, with virtual gatherings and "distance celebrations".

If Christmas Day this year is anything like 2019's, then a jaunt to the local common may be a challenge.

Last year, temperatures plunged to -3C in parts of the UK on Christmas morning.

Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, warned that mixing at Christmas poses "substantial risks", particularly for older people.

He said there had been "far too much emphasis" on having a normal festive period.

This kind of set up should be taken to the park, the WHO health chief said
(Image: Getty Images)

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Professor Hayward added that the country was "on the cusp" of being able to vaccinate older populations and it would be "tragic" to throw away the gains made in suppressing coronavirus.

He also attacked the Government for "inconsistent" messages over what to do, saying it was clear that if people wanted to avoid Covid-19 they should not mix indoors.

His intervention came after several days of speculation about the festive period.

Central Government is reportedly considering plans to ease restrictions on indoor socialising for five days from December 24.

In return, a tighter lockdown may have to be enforced to stop hospitals from being overloaded by the uptick in infections.

Downing Street said plans for Christmas would be set out next week.