Coronavirus: Family Christmas get-togethers being considered

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LONDON: Ministers are looking at how to relax coronavirus restrictions so families can celebrate Christmas together. The government’s medical adviser on Covid, Dr Susan Hopkins, said they were working on a plan and wanted Christmas to be “as close to normal as possible”.

BBC health correspondent Nick Triggle said any rule change would be for a limited time, maybe just a few days. Cabinet minister Alok Sharma said it was too early for “conclusions” but he wanted to see his family for Christmas.

Cabinet minister Alok Sharma

It comes after the Sun reported that families may be able to mix indoors for five days from Christmas Eve. All four UK nations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – are trying to work out a common approach to Christmas so families spread across the UK can still meet up.

Our correspondent said any final decisions would not be made for a few weeks while health chiefs wait to see whether cases have started to come down during the lockdown in England.

But, he said, the advice was likely to urge families not to hold big gatherings and to travel by car, rather than public transport.

England is expected to come out of its second national lockdown on 2 December and return to the tier system of localised restrictions, with household mixing banned indoors in the top two tiers.

Dr Hopkins, from Public Health England, suggested tougher restrictions could be needed either side of Christmas if curbs were to be eased over the festive period. “Coming into Christmas we need to be very careful about the number of contacts that we have, to reduce transmission before Christmas and get our cases as low as possible,” she told a Downing Street briefing.

She added: “This is a decision that will be made by government and I know that they’re working hard to develop an outline of what that will look like and what the new tiers will look like post-December 2 and what Christmas will look like.”