Published: 15:30, 23 October 2020
| Updated: 16:42, 23 October 2020
What people in Kent do in the upcoming weeks will determine what happens at Christmas.
That's the messages from the county's chief health boss, who has warned people not to become "complacent" if they want to spend the festive period with their families.
KCC health boss warns how Covid-19 could affect Christmas
Andrew Scott-Clark, Kent County Council's Director of Public Health has echoed the thoughts of a government scientific advisor who said if people carrying on as they are and hoping to have a normal Christmas are "wishful thinking".
Mr Scott-Clark said: "We're keeping a close eye on the figures and it's really hard to know now what may happen, but what we're warning is that we're seeing an uptick and that's concerning because what happens now will determine what happens at Christmas.
"Our message here is that people's behaviour now will determine how Christmas is for everybody.
"We all pray and want families together this year because that's what we all do and always have done, so now is the time to get our behaviours right in order to protect Christmas, but also to protect our economy.
"Keeping our high streets and businesses open as much as we can and as good as we can is what we want to do that as much as possible.
"The social interactions are causing this virus to transfer, and it's when people have their guard down, whether they're at work in a tea room situation or outside work in those more social events we all have."
The health chief admitted there is a threshold which would need to be met for Kent to go into similar restrictions to up north, but wouldn't reveal what it is.
He added: "We are looking at a threshold, but these aren't published, and we're nowhere near it yet."
"The only way that we can have a relatively safe and normal Christmas is if we take radical action now..."
Mr Scott-Clark, who has overseen the county council's response to the pandemic stressed that we are now at a "tipping point" in the UK, as well as the county.
"It's a critical time and we've heard those messages nationally," he said.
"I think for people now, and that's everyone at home, at work or socialising, the message is that your behaviour now will determine what the figures in three, four or five weeks are going to be.
"The risk is much great now because we know there is more Covid in the population that we had in July, August and the beginning of September.
"Those social interactions people have will allow the virus to jump from people with Covid, to those who don't have it."
Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said “radical action” would be needed to stem the rise in coronavirus cases, particularly in regions with high incidence of the virus.
It comes after Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay said he hoped families would be able to spend Christmas together even if things are not exactly the same.
Downing Street said it was the government’s “ambition to ensure that people may celebrate Christmas as a family this year”.
However, Prof Edmunds, who told MPs on Wednesday that tens of thousands of deaths could occur during this wave of the pandemic, said further measures are needed to bring cases down.
“The only way that we can have a relatively safe and normal Christmas is if we take radical action now to reduce incidence – at the very least in high incidence areas – and keep the incidence low across the country by implementing a package of measures to reduce social contacts,” he said.
“The notion that we can carry on as we are and have a Christmas that we can celebrate normally with friends and family is wishful thinking in the extreme.”