No Hugs? UK Health Sec Suggests Social Distancing Still Required at Christmas

Laverne Higgins
November 21, 2020

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.

The newspaper said Mr 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.

"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".

Currently, churches will remain open for private prayer only, with Downing Street saying in November that outlawing services inside places of worship is "vital in tackling the spread of the virus".

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

Mr Hancock said "it's still too early to tell" what will happen after December 2 when England's lockdown is due to end.

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. However, the country would fall back into regional tiered measures, with sources claiming that no part of England would be in the lowest category.

But referring to the "ray of light" that may be provided by a vaccine, Mr Hancock confirmed that he has formally asked the UK's regulator to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use here. We will try and get that balance right, but ultimately we will try to make sure we protect our NHS and safeguard lives.

Under the plan, every adult who wants a jab could be vaccinated by early April.

Mr Hancock told the briefing he did not want to "pre-judge" or "impinge" on the independence of the MHRA when asked how long its process could take and that the speed of a vaccine roll-out would depend on the manufacturing speed.

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The Professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University College London (UCL) 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".

Prof Van-Tam said: "It just takes a few seconds to create new infections through unneeded close contact".

Christmas is an important time of the year, but with a winter battle against coronavirus raging what families are allowed to do could look very different.

Warning that infection rates will pick up again if the public ignores any guidelines put in place around Christmas, he said there is a "dual responsibility" for people to follow the rules set out by the Government.

The UK recorded a further 511 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test on Friday, the health minister Matt Hancock said, up from 501 a day earlier.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has said he is "generally hopeful" an agreement can be reached between the UK's four nations regarding Christmas plans.

England has been under lockdown for two weeks.

The paper also reported Chancellor Rishi Sunak pushed to have the restrictions eased ahead of December 25 to allow the hospitality sector to benefit from increased trade.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Friday t hat the number of COVID-19 infections in England appears to have levelled off in recent weeks.

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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