A health expert has shared his advice on making Christmas parties as safe as possible.

The Government this week brought back mandatory face coverings on public transport and in shops following the emergence of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.

As the Christmas party season approaches, some leading public health officials suggested people ‘don’t socialise unless necessary’.

But Hertfordshire’s public health director Jim McManus says people can act to make parties and gatherings as safe as possible.

Read more: Omicron: Don't let Christmas party ruin your Christmas

He suggested revellers think about a ‘combination’ of measures to reduce the risks of spreading or catching Covid-19.

Those could include combinations of lateral flow testing, ventilation and face coverings, as well as hand sanitising and not overcrowding a venue.

Mr McManus suggests choosing venues with a Covid-safe accreditation, like the ‘Safe To Trade’ accreditation.

He says wearing face coverings in indoor situations is strongly advised, though not required by law in hospitality.


Jim McManus, director of public health at Hertfordshire County Council

Jim McManus, director of public health at Hertfordshire County Council


Hertfordshire director of public health Jim McManus

When eating and drinking, he says a ‘bedrock’ of other measures will reduce risk.

He said a safer Christmas party would be in a ventilated room full of double-vaccinated adults who had all taken a lateral flow test and who all worked or socialised together regularly, giving a ‘bubbling effect’.

Wearing face coverings when moving around would lower risk further.

He also suggests reducing the number of people you come into contact with before Christmas and even the number of Christmas parties.

Read more: Man fined £1,100 for not wearing face mask

For those looking to have a smaller gathering at home, he suggests ventilating the room well, ensuring everyone is double vaccinated and has had a lateral flow test in advance.

Mr McManus says he already wears a face covering, limits the time he spends in crowded shops – and chooses quiet times to go to the gym.

He says he limits the number of people he socialises with. And if he has to attend a larger event he does a lateral flow test before and afterwards – wearing face coverings in lectures or in some meetings.

At a media briefing earlier this week, the county council’s executive member for public health and community safety Cllr Morris Bright said advice was not designed to deter people from having a good time.


Tips to make your Christmas party as Covid-safe as possible

Tips to make your Christmas party as Covid-safe as possible


“I don’t think people should stop going out enjoying themselves,” he said.

“It’s just about making sure you take the necessary precautions.”