Downing Street to set out plans to relax Covid rules for Christmas

A man walks past Christmas decorations outside a store amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in London Britain

A man walks past Christmas decorations outside a store amid the coronavirus disease outbreak in London Britain

Warning that infection rates will pick up again if the public ignores any guidelines put in place around Christmas, Prof Van-Tam said there is a "dual responsibility" for people to follow the rules.

However, central to the plans is a major easing of restrictions in the last week of December.

But that has prompted a backlash from some scientists who warned it could worsen the coronavirus epidemic in the UK.

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

"We need to think very seriously about Christmas and how we're going to spend it".

SEEING family and friends for "five days of jollity" at Christmas could mean burying them in the new year, public health experts have warned.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he wants to have testing for care home visitors in place for all care homes in England "by Christmas".

But he did not outright deny Prof Scally's claim that a loosening of the rules could lead to more people losing their lives.

"We are heading in the right direction but there is still a long way to go".

"I've got no doubt that people will continue to respect social distancing throughout, because we know that that is so important for full control of the virus".

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The state's hospitals are under extreme pressure due to the surge of COVID-19 cases. Since the pandemic began, about 2,981 of the company employees have been infected.

But he immediately added: "If we don't take correct measures at any stage of the year, whether it's Christmas or any other time, the consequences could be severe when it comes to hospital admissions and deaths".

Government ministers are keen for next week's announcement to "give people a bit of hope", with an allowance of one large gathering over Christmas is seen by some as that offering.

"What we want to have is a set of rules that is, if at all possible, consistent across the four nations of the United Kingdom, not least because so many people travel to see their family at Christmas time, but also respects the fact that we must follow social distancing to keep the virus under control".

"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.

Speculation has brimmed over after plans were leaked to the media.

One Government adviser yesterday suggested that indoor socialising would have to be banned across England after December 2. "I can't tell you now".

He said that the country is literally on the "cusp" of being able to protect grandparents with a vaccine.

Professor Hayward told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday: "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".

Similar curbs are in force in mainland Scotland, a fresh lockdown will prevent gatherings of more than one household in Northern Ireland from Friday and Wales has rules governing people mixing indoors.

"Whereas in fact the things that people need to do to stay safe and to keep their loved ones safe are relatively simple".

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