Scotland's clinical director Professor Jason Leitch has defended the Scottish Government's recently-published guidance for Scots over the Christmas period.

Speaking on BBC's Good Morning Scotland, Prof Leitch explained that the four nations had agreed the Christmas period was a "big deal" for the UK, but it was "important to offer some sort of guidance so that people didn't just do whatever they pleased."

The four nations together decided on the constraints of three households would be allowed to gather over a period of five days, but the individual demographics would define their own "version" of the rules.

READ MORE: The Scottish Government's guidance for festive period in full

In Scotland, the guidance underlines that the safest way to spend Christmas is to refrain from forming a 'Christmas bubble' despite the easing of restrictions, and to stay within your own household, in your own home and in your local area. 

As Prof Leitch explained, "the virus will not take Christmas off."

He said: “The public health advice is cautious, and we want people to use it to relieve social isolation, not to have a big Christmas party.

"Reserve the Christmas parties for after the vaccine, for after the pandemic.”

He added: “The public health advice has to be broader, than just Covid.

"It has to include schools and education, it has to include family isolation, it has to include mental health and loneliness, so actually the public health advice is always a bit of a compromise compared to Covid.”

Professor Calum Semple, a virologist at the University of Liverpool, told the same programme that meeting anyone indoors over Christmas will carry risks.

He said: “If we do pop round to granny or grandpa with the full family and everyone is giving hugs and kisses, there will be transmission events.

“We are so close to having a vaccine ready to give to our frail and elderly relatives, and those of us that have heart problems or high blood pressure, that to take unnecessary risks would just be a tragedy in so many cases.

“That doesn’t mean to say you can’t go round, wash your hands, do your best, but if you overdo it there’s going to be transmission events.”

Prof Leitch said that the answer to stopping Covid is easy - full lockdown. 

However, he went on to explain that the "exam question" is much more complex.

He said: “The exam question is 'How do you stop Covid, keep the economy moving and keep society at some level of normality to reduce isolation and loneliness.'

"That’s a harder question to answer.”

The risks, of which there are many, are in "the things that you share", explained the clinical director, and said buffets are out of the question for Christmas.

“I get people asking me very, very granular questions, on social media or in the media, or even my own family and friends”, he said, before adding other people want him to “go away” and “leave them to eat their roast potatoes in peace.”

Prof Leitch explained: “It’s difficult to find the balance there.”

The Government recommended that bubbles are kept to a maximum of eight people, although children under the age of 12 do not count and need not maintain physical distance from others.

However, the members of your bubble should not change once it has been formed, meaning you cannot spend a day with two other households one day and two different households the next.

Guidance also stated that Scots should remain 2m away from people outside of their household as much as possible, as if anyone in the bubble contracts Covid-19, all members of the bubble will be required to isolate for 14 days.

When asked about staying two metres apart, he added: “It’s not [impossible]. You have to separate the households, not the people.

“I think Scotland is innovative enough to manage, and we’re not suggesting that everyone have eight people.

“We’re hoping, actually, that people will have threes and fours, and do it for a single day rather than eight people for a five day holiday.

“So we want people to be very, very sensible.”