Christmas lockdown: Will we have THIRD lockdown after Christmas break?
Christmas is a great chance to spend time with your loved ones – but this year many of us may have more muted celebrations to avoid the risk of potentially passing on a deadly disease to our nearest and dearest. With England’s lockdown expected to lift on December 2, Brits up and down the country are eagerly awaiting news from the Government about what we’ll be allowed – or not allowed – to do this Christmas. And it’s being suggested families could be allowed to join a temporary bubble to meet up over the festive period.
Potentially up to three households could be allowed to create a temporary ‘bubble’ to allow families to spend up to seven days together.
Sources say the plans are expected to be announced next week and will see households able to mix from December 22 and 28.
Church services will be able to go ahead as well, with restrictions currently only allowing religious buildings to remain open for private prayer only expected to be lifted allowing Christmas Day services to be held.
The hospitality sector will be able to open up again in this time, in a much need boost to the British economy.
But this lifting of restrictions may come at a price, it has been warned.
Public Health England (PHE) suggested that for every one day of relaxed restrictions, the UK would need an extra five days of tighter rules.
So if these plans to cancel the rules between December 22 and 28 come to fruition, this could mean more than a month of tighter regulations – 35 days in fact.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s team have stressed he is adamant he will find a way to ensure people can celebrate Christmas this year.
Any u-turn on his pledges will likely be met with anger from some on Mr Johnson’s back bench, who have warned they will not support any further “draconian” lockdown extensions.
And if the Prime Minister is unable to count on his own party, he may have to rely on Labour to get any restrictions through Parliament – a move he may be loathed to make.
The PM will have a tough decision on his hands – and one to be made without the advice of his closest advisors Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain – if the scientific advisors indicate a relaxing of the rules could have a deadly cost.
So far Mr Johnson has been seen to disregard the advice of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) when they ordered a return to lockdown restrictions earlier this year – only to later admit a circuit breaker was needed.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said there was “no magic number” about how many days this “would cost us”.
But he added it was important people complied with whatever rules were in place if coronavirus infection rates were to be held down.
A source said: “These are really difficult decisions, and no one wants to say we shouldn’t celebrate at Christmas.
“We all get that, but in some ways they’re making it so much worse by being so bullish about the subject.
“It’s almost as if everyone is expected to do something risky at Christmas to make up for the dreadful year we’ve had.
“It’s all presented as so black and white, as if you either do Christmas or you don’t. But there are ways you can do Christmas that minimise risk.”
The Prime Minister’s dilemma comes as the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers today warned she expects lockdown restrictions to be in place into the new year to get us through the “hump of winter-meets-coronavirus”.
Saffron Cordery told BBC Breakfast the NHS workforce was now “incredibly tired” and that the main priority for hospital chiefs “is to look after their staff so they can look after patients effectively.”
She said: “There’s this huge hope (of a vaccine) among staff and among the general public and this sense of ‘oh we can take our foot off the peddle now’.
“But actually we can’t, we need to hold on just a little while longer until all of the elements are in place.”
She also warned that despite transmission rates slowing, it is too early to think about easing coronavirus restrictions.
The NHS worker warned a drop in infection rates in some part of the country hasn’t yet translated into a drop in hospital admissions, saying: “There is a lag in the spread reducing in the community and it actually reducing in terms of hospital admissions.
“When someone contracts coronavirus it would probably be 10 days to two weeks before the become a hospital admission.
“I think it would be really tempting to say ‘OK this lockdown is working, let’s lift all restrictions on December 2 and go back to where we were’.
“But I think that could put us at dangerous terms both in controlling the spread of the virus and what it means for the NHS.”