The jury is out on whether a relaxation of restrictions over Christmas will mean a return to tough tier restrictions in the New Year, according to a leading health expert.

Karen Taylor, director of the UK Centre for Health Solutions at Deloitte, said: “If you look at the US, and the spike of cases following the relaxation over Thanksgiving, that would suggest a return [of restrictions]. Certainly, scientists are concerned there will be another increase [in Covid cases in the UK].”

But she noted: “The US already had high rates of infection. As we get our rates down, there is more optimism that we may avoid a peak after Christmas.”

Speaking at a Travel Weekly Insight report launch event last week, before London’s move to tier three restrictions was announced on Monday, Taylor said whether tougher restrictions will be needed “is a difficult question to answer.

“People are being advised not to go mad and meet lots of people and lose all sense of restrictions, but to operate with the restrictions still in place and be able to see their families.

“It does depend how people behave, how well they comply with the restrictions and mitigating strategies.”

She added: “People also have to take an informed view of risk. I know the scientists are cautious. Hopefully, we will be able to contain the virus. There is a balance and we have to think about the impact on the economy and on health more generally.”

However, Taylor noted: “The evidence shows that as soon as you relax restrictions, the risk increases.

“A balance needs to be struck. But it’s more than my job to say what that balance is. I just know what the research shows, what the evidence shows.

“Some Far East countries have managed to open up their economies almost as normal by keeping rates low for a long period.

“We’re clearly in a very different position to that. Each country is in a different situation.”

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