Thursday, 3 Dec 2020

Christmas update coming next week as fears grow over festive gatherings

Plans to potentially ease restrictions over Christmas are set to be unveiled next week.

Downing Street said the rules will be announced within days, and before the second national lockdown ends on December 2.

But it comes amid warnings from a Government scientific adviser festive gatherings would "throw fuel on the fire" of coronavirus infections.

Professor Andrew Hayward, from University College London and a member of Sage, said the country was "on the cusp" of being able to vaccinate older people.

He warned it would be "tragic" to throw away the gains made in suppressing coronavirus.

Prof Hayward told the BBC: "Mixing at Christmas does pose substantial risks, particularly in terms of bringing together generations with high incidence of infection with the older generations who currently have much lower levels of infection and are at most risk of dying if they catch Covid.

"My personal view is we're putting far too much emphasis on having a near-normal Christmas.

"We know respiratory infections peak in January so throwing fuel on the fire over Christmas can only contribute to this."

Ministers are said to be considering plans to relax Covid-19 restrictions over the festive period so families can get together across the country.

Households could be allowed to mix together for five days while three or four households might be allowed to form social bubbles, according to reports.

Boris Johnson has said it "will be a little bit different from normal" this year.

  • Over 70% of Brit pubs and restaurants 'could be forced to close next year'

But the Prime Minister added ministers "continue to hope to ensure that families can spend Christmas together".

A Number 10 spokesman said: "We will set out our plans next week."

However, scientists have suggested every day of relaxed measures would need five days of tougher measures to compensate.

It means a 25-day lockdown could be imposed to compensate for the five days over Christmas.

The UK’s grim Covid death toll rose by 501 on Thursday, bringing the total to 53,775.

A further 22,915 lab-confirmed cases of the virus have also been reported.

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