The World Health Organization has issued a stark warning ahead of the festive season as the world continues to battle against the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
With lockdown having ended in England on Wednesday, December 2, many shops and restaurants across the country have reopened as the Tier system came in.
The new system means retail venues will be open in all Tier regions and will even be granted the right to remain open later in a drive to save the UK high street following months of restrictions
One of the shops taking advantage of the move is Primark, which is extending its opening hours for the holiday period – and will also keep 11 stores open for 24 hours following the end of lockdown.
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It comes just in time for Christmas, with millions of Brits ready to head out and get their Christmas shopping done.
But health experts have warned against visiting crowded shopping centres and have instead urged Brits to buy their presents online if they can.
WHO has also said that the pandemic will "change the way we celebrate" as it also told people to "avoid gatherings with many different households and families coming together."
Speaking on the continuing battle against Covid-19 on Monday, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "This is no time for complacency, especially with the holiday season approaching in many cultures and countries.
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"We all want to be together with the people we love during festive periods. But being with family and friends is not worth putting them or yourself at risk.
"We all need to consider whose life we might be gambling with in the decisions we make. The Covid-19 pandemic will change the way we celebrate, but it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate. We still can celebrate.
"The changes you make will depend on where you live. Always follow your local or national guidelines. The first question to ask yourself is, do you need to travel? Do you really need to travel? For many people, this is a season for staying home and staying safe.
"Celebrate with your household, and avoid gatherings with many different households and families coming together.
"If you do meet people from a different household, meet outdoors if you can, maintain physical distance and wear a mask.
"Avoid crowded shopping centres, shop at less crowded times, and use online shopping if you can. If travelling is essential, take precautions to minimise the risk – for you and others.
"Maintain distance from others and wear a mask when you're in airports and train stations, and on planes, trains and buses. Carry hand sanitiser with you, or wash your hands frequently with soap and water. And if you feel unwell, don't travel.
"Even if we can’t celebrate as normal this year, make a plan to celebrate with your family and friends once it’s safe to do so. We know it will be safe, it’s a matter of time.
"The pandemic will end – and we all have a part to play in ending it. "
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