Monday, 18 Jan 2021

Christmas rules CONFIRMED: All four UK nations agree to loosen coronavirus restrictions

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Michael Gove has been chairing a meeting with the devolved administrations to ensure the whole of the UK implemented the same rules over the festive period. Between December 23 and December 27, up to three families will be allowed to meet inside. But people have been urged to still respect social distancing over the festive break.

Ahead of Mr Gove’s meeting, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was hoped they could agree a “common framework” across the UK, although there may be some regional differences.

There could be variations on issues including the definition of a household – to “reflect the different circumstances in each nation”.

She said: “I know everyone has a desire to see loved ones over the festive period.

“However, there is also a very real and a very legitimate anxiety that doing so could put those we love at risk, set back our progress as a country and result in unnecessary deaths and suffering.”

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said there would need to be a cautious approach both before Christmas and in the “aftermath” because of the risk that increased household mixing could spread the virus.

He told the Welsh Parliament: “Coronavirus thrives when people get together and the more people get together, the more coronavirus there will be.

“It’s why I have been arguing in the meetings we have had for a focus not just on a small number of days of Christmas itself, but the decisions we need to take in the lead-up to Christmas and how we will deal with the aftermath and to try to do that on a broadly common basis as well.”

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urged people to “look very carefully” at how they will go home for Christmas – and even consider not travelling.

He told the BBC: “We have got to understand there are limitations to the (train) network caused by, for example, things like the need on some trains to pre-book tickets at this time, in order to prevent overcrowding.

“So we are going to be appealing to people to look very carefully at the transport route they take and of course even making a choice about whether they travel at all.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously acknowledged the risks involved in a Christmas relaxation, saying it is the “season to be jolly careful”, but the Government was determined to give families the chance to meet up at the end of a grim year.

More to follow…

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