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November 22, 2020

UK-wide ‘easing of coronavirus rules for a week at Christmas’

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P
Pa
November 22, 2020

LONDON: Families could be allowed to meet for up to a week over Christmas as part of a UK-wide relaxation of coronavirus rules, it has been reported.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a Downing Street briefing it was still too early to say what contact people will be able to have over the festive period, but it has been reported Boris Johnson is preparing to announce a plan next week for an easing of rules.

Several families could be allowed to join a bubble and to mix between December 22 and 28, the Daily Telegraph reported. The newspaper said Johnson will also warn the level of restrictions for the rest of next month would depend on how well the public obeys the current lockdown in England, which is due to end on December 2.

Downing Street declined to comment, but did not deny the report. Addressing the coronavirus briefing on Friday, Hancock said it would be a “boost” for the UK if a “safe, careful and sensible” set of plans could be agreed between the devolved nations. He said: “Over Christmas I know how important it is that we have a system in place, a set of rules that both keeps people safe but also allows people to see their loved ones.”

Earlier this week Public Health England said Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) guidance had suggested each day of greater freedom could require five days of tighter measures.

But deputy chief medical officer for England Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, who also appeared at the briefing, said there is “no magic number” about how many days any easing of the rules might cost.

Meanwhile Hancock said he is increasingly hopeful of some kind of normality by spring, as he confirmed the UK’s health regulator is assessing a coronavirus vaccine which could potentially be rolled out next month.

He described the consideration by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as “another important step forward in tackling this pandemic”.

Hancock said that with the news of vaccine breakthroughs in recent weeks, coupled with an expansion in mass testing, he is “more and more confident” that life will be closer to normal by spring.