THE World Health Organization (WHO) is urging people not to gather with their family at Christmas because the risk of spreading Covid-19 is too great.
Public health measures are largely being relaxed for the next few days to allow people to visit their loved ones and celebrate the holidays with them.
But the WHO still insist that "the safest thing to do right now is to remain at home" as there are "months of sacrifice" ahead of us all.
WHO regional director for Europe Dr Hans Kluge said: "There remains a difference between what you are being permitted to do by your authorities and what you should do.
"We have a few more months of sacrifice ahead and can behave now in a way that collectively we are proud of.
"When we look back at these unprecedented times, I hope we all felt we acted with a spirit of shared humanity to protect those in need."
Dr Kluge added that the pandemic had done unprecedented damage to people's mental health, and it was important to get through this period as efficiently as possible.
"Covid-19 has forced families and communities apart, bankrupted businesses, and deprived people of opportunities that a year ago were taken for granted.
"From anxieties around virus transmission, the psychological impact of lockdowns and self-isolation, to the effects of unemployment, financial worries and social exclusion - the mental health impact of the pandemic will be long term and far reaching.
"What has resulted is a growing mental health crisis in Europe."