Coronavirus: Christmas socialising poses 'substantial risks' - scientist

Grant Boone
November 21, 2020

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said it is "still too early to say" if restrictions will definitely be lifted on the second.

Several households - potentially three - could be allowed to create a bubble temporarily between December 22 and 28, with the plans covering all four nations of the United Kingdom, according to the Daily Telegraph.

While England is in a full lockdown, Hancock confirmed that he has been working alongside devolved authorities in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland - which have overseen their own national responses to the pandemic - to introduce a UK-wide approach to coronavirus restrictions once the lockdown ends.

Downing Street declined to say whether door-to-door carol singing would be allowed but the PM's spokesman said there would be no ban on the sale of mistletoe.

But on Friday night Professor Jonathan Van Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, said the health service meant to "move with as much pace as we can possibly muster" with only a matter of weeks difference between priority groups.

Mr Hancock went on to say that government officials were working hard to map out an "agreed set of rules".

Professor Andrew Hayward who is a member of the government's scientific advisory body SAGE slammed the government over their constant and "inconsistent" messaging to the public.

It is hoped that by then the country will be back to a tiered system and auto dealers will be operating again following the Covid Secure measures they put in place following the first lockdown.

"We see very little effect from tier one and when we look at what tiers may be there in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone", she said.

It comes as NHS documents seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) suggest all adults in England - of any age - could start to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before the end of January if supplies allow.

Respect the fact that we mustn’t spread the virus further’ Health secretary Matt Hancock
Respect the fact that we mustn’t spread the virus further’ Health secretary Matt Hancock

He said it was more important people complied with whatever rules were in place if coronavirus infection rates were to be held down.

Mr Hancock said the second peak of the virus is "flattening" but urged the public to "keep our resolve" for the rest of the lockdown to keep cases down.

Prof Van-Tam said: "It just takes a few seconds to create new infections through unneeded close contact". I would love all of us to be able to have a Christmas, but more than anything I want us to get through this and try and get this country back to normal.

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.

Speaking to BBC TV, Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said there would the details would be worked out at a meeting next week.

Issues being talked about include travel between the nations, how long any easing of restrictions might last and to what extent households may be allowed to mix.

On Friday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were "substantial differences" in Covid-19 infection rates across England, with rates have having continued to increase in London, the east of England and the South East, but decreasing in the North West and the East Midlands.

Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, has warned social restrictions may need to remain in large parts of England after lockdown, to stop infection levels rebounding immediately and undoing any benefits.

Sage said the reproduction number - or R value - for the whole of the United Kingdom had dropped to between 1 and 1.1.

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