Care homes told to ban Christmas decorations to reduce Covid spread

Care homes are told to ban Christmas decorations under pointless ‘bah humbug guidelines’ aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus

  • Experts have said there is no scientific evidence that trees and cards pose risk
  • Some homes have been told to quarantine Christmas cards for three days 
  • Presents should be brought unwrapped for staff to wrap, others have been told  
  • National Care Forum has blamed ‘spectre of infection prevention control overkill’

Care homes are being told to ban Christmas decorations under pointless ‘bah humbug guidelines’ aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus.

Experts said there is no scientific evidence that Christmas trees, cards or festive ornaments pose an infection risk.

But some local infection prevention teams have warned care homes to use artificial trees and wipeable, single-use decorations. 

Some have also been told cards and decorations should be quarantined for three days before opening, and presents should be brought to homes unwrapped – to be wrapped by staff.

Care homes are being told to ban Christmas decorations under pointless ‘bah humbug guidelines’ aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus [Stock image taken before pandemic]

Liz Jones, National Care Forum policy director, said managers and care workers up and down the country were digging out the Christmas decorations, untangling the tinsel and dusting off the baubles in preparations for the holidays.

‘This year, more than any other, the hope and joy of Christmas is needed… But it seems the spectre of infection prevention control overkill lurks,’ she said. ‘We have yet to find any evidence to underpin this latest flurry of bah humbug advice.’ 

‘While Covid has limited so many things in care homes, surely we can still ‘deck the halls’. 

Professor James Naismith from the University of Oxford said he struggled to see how the advice on decorations can ‘meaningfully reduce’ the risk in care homes. 

‘Whilst it is true that virus in droplets can survive for a period of time on solid surfaces, the length of time the virus remains infectious is not known.

‘The time is less for porous surfaces, such as papers. Certainly three-day quarantine for Christmas cards and decorations is not grounded on any scientific study I am aware of,’ he said.

He added that unless people were ‘actively passing decorations to one another or constantly touching the tree’ he would ‘struggle to identify any risk from Covid-19 that these regulations would meaningfully reduce.’ 

Previously, academics have also said the risk of spreading Covid-19 from sending Christmas cards is low.   

‘Christmas decorations can be used safely and sensibly and are a key part of the festive cheer that we all need so badly,’ Naismith said. 

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