Britain may allow Christmas as Covid cases start to flatten

Henrietta Brewer
November 21, 2020

Speaking to Times Radio on Friday, the senior minister said: "It's about getting the balance right and allowing people to have a Christmas that undoubtedly will be different this year but still try to have that cherished Christmas with your family as much as possible".

Downing Street said plans for what will follow England's lockdown - which is expected to end on 2 December - and proposals to ease restrictions over Christmas would be set out next week.

Prof Hayward, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London, said mixing at Christmas does pose "substantial risks" particularly where generations "with high incidence of infection" socialise with older people "who now have much lower levels of infection and are at most risk of dying" if they catch Covid-19.

Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London (UCL) and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the country was "on the cusp" of being able to vaccinate older populations and it would be "tragic" to throw away the gains made in suppressing coronavirus.

But one scientific adviser warned that meeting friends over Christmas poses "substantial risks".

Speaking in a personal capacity, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Mixing at Christmas does pose substantial risks, particularly in terms of bringing together generations with high incidence of infection with the older generations who now 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".

With the lockdown still in place, the government has said that plans for Christmas would not be revealed until national restrictions end on 2 December. "There are lots of people, I'm afraid, still dying of COVID".

This will not necessarily have to be December 25 but will have to be during the short period when restrictions are loosened.

Scientists have said that for every day measures are eased, five days of tighter restrictions would be needed.

"We have to give people hope", said one minister.

According to The Sun newspaper, Ministers are considering allowing families to socialise indoors for five days, from Christmas Eve.

He added: "I just think it would be such a boost to the whole of the United Kingdom if the four nations can come together and agree a set of arrangements which are safe, careful and sensible but also allow families to see each other at Christmas". News UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks via video link from 10 Downing Street during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.

Prof Van-Tam said he was isolating "due to a household contact" while Prof Powis confirmed earlier this week that he was doing so after a member of his household tested positive for coronavirus.

Last month leading figures in the West Midlands and Merseyside police forces said that they would investigate reports of Christmas parties in Britons' homes if it were suspected they breached social distancing rules.

He said he hoped that restrictions, which include a strict lockdown in England, could be eased to "allow for a bit more of that normal Christmas that people really look forward to".

"We agreed some broad parameters on Wednesday and remitted officials of all four administrations to work now on the detail, so I remain hopeful that it will be possible to reach a four-nation approach to Christmas", he told the Today programme.

The Government said a further 511 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, bringing the United Kingdom total to 54,286, while another 20,252 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported.

There had been a further 19,609 lab-confirmed cases in the United Kingdom as of 9am on Wednesday, taking the total to 1,430,341.

Other reports by iNewsToday