A professor of public health has slammed the government's relaxing of coronavirus restrictions for five days over Christmas, dubbing the plan a 'mistake'.

Linda Bauld, of the University of Edinburgh, said this morning the move would have "consequences" and warned of the dangers of people moving from higher-risk areas to lower-risk ones in particular.

"I think people have to think very carefully whether they can see loved ones outside, or do it in a very modest way.

"I'm also concerned about the travel, people going from high to low-prevalence areas," she told BBC Breakfast earlier this morning.

"I think it's going to have consequences," the professor added.

Since the ending of the second national lockdown, rates of infection for coronavirus have increased in a number of areas in England and are rising sharply in London.

The city was placed in the High Risk or Tier 2 level of Covid-19 restrictions on December 2, lower than a number of other regions, but currently has among the highest rates of infections of anywhere in England.

Public Health England’s survey for the week of November 30 to December 6 gave the capital an infection rate on 191.8 per 100,000 people.

This is higher than areas which are largely under strict Tier 3 restrictions, such as the West Midlands, which has an infection rate of 158.4 per 100,000.

During the week, a leading public health official warned that London must be placed under Tier 3 restrictions within the next 48 hours to avoid a “terrible situation” over the Christmas period.

Professor John Ashton, a member of Independent Sage and a former regional director of public health for the north west, said that London’s situation requires urgent review.

Professor Bauld for her part said she understood why the easing of restrictions around Christmas was taken, but underlined the risks involved.

"I completely understand why governments are doing that. Behaviourally people are fed up," she said.

"If you're meeting people indoors from other households, there's poor ventilation, maybe older family members are in those bubbles, unfortunately because the virus hasn't been eliminated... I think that means the Christmas period is a risk.

"From a public health perspective, I have to be perfectly honest, I think this is a mistake."