The “only real way” for a safe Christmas in 2020 is to impose a lockdown to reduce coronavirus cases to very low levels, a scientific adviser to the Government has argued.

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), made the comments as the Government considers imposing a national lockdown next week.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce new measures for England on Monday (November 2), which could see everywhere except essential shops and education settings closed for a month.

The idea of tougher restrictions in the run-up to Christmas has been touted as a way to reduce infections so that family gatherings over the festive period – seen as inevitable by some – are safer.

LATEST - 3 reasons PM has been told to lockdown and 9 ways Lockdown 2 could be different

Salisbury Journal:

Prof Edmunds told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The idea of a lockdown is to save lives primarily.

“I think the only real way that we have a relatively safe Christmas is to get the incidence right down because otherwise I think Christmas is very difficult for people – nobody wants to have a disrupted Christmas holiday period where you can’t see your family and so on.

“So I think the only way that that can be safely achieved is to bring the incidence right down, and in order to do that we have to take action now and that action needs to be stringent, unfortunately.”

Downing Street has previously said it is the Government’s ambition to “ensure that people may celebrate Christmas as a family this year”.

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said the current “firebreak” restrictions should give a pathway to Christmas “without needing a period of this severity of restraint between now and then”.