Expert says to spend less than 15 minutes in shop to reduce Covid risk

To reduce the risk of Covid-19, you shouldn’t spend more than 15 minutes in a store, according to a SAGE expert.

Non-essential stores across England will reopen on December 2 after a month of lockdown – and all stores are allowed to open anywhere in the country, no matter what level they are at.

Some retailers have said they will be open 24 hours so that people can catch up on their Christmas shopping, others will open until midnight, and many retailers say they will extend their opening hours in December.

But SAGE professor Lucy Yardley, speaking to Times Radio, suggested limiting the amount of time spent in stores, reports The mirror.

Asked how long is too long, she said, “Well, the rule that comes in handy for contact tracking is that if you spend 15 minutes with someone closer than six feet, you’ve definitely had a potentially contagious contact with them.

“So that’s quite a generous amount of time, I’m not sure most of us are going to need that much time in a store.

“And the less time you spend there, the safer you are. If you spend time close enough to someone and they transfer it to you or cough, it doesn’t take 15 minutes to get the virus.”

But she said that as long as people adhere to social distance rules and wear masks indoors, Christmas shopping is “not the most dangerous.”

Prof Yardley also urged people to “take a step back” and think before visiting older relatives.

“Is it really important that you share your home for the entire allowed period?” she said. “Because that is very risky for older people who are particularly vulnerable to this infection.

“So I think, while we can do that, and some people want to do that, the first question to ask yourself is, would it be better to put it off for a few months until they get vaccinated?

“Which hopefully they will be when they are very vulnerable, and do it more safely at that point.”