Christmas bubbles will means lockdown still lifted even in Tier 3 areas, No10 confirms
PLANS for the UK to form 'Christmas bubbles' next week will still go ahead despite cases increasing in London and the South East, No10 said today.
Downing Street confirmed there are no plans to shorten or to scrap the period over Christmas in which social distancing will be relaxed amid concerns over spikes in positive tests.
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Brits will be allowed to form a bubble of up to three households between December 23 and 27 – no matter what Tier they are in.
Social distancing can be binned, but people are being urged to stay cautious if they can.
And Government guidance recommends that people isolate for as long as possible both before and after Christmas to try and reduce the risk of spreading anything.
And despite the capital about to be plunged into Tier 3 within days, next week it means people from across the country will be allowed to meet up indoors to celebrate Christmas.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said when asked if they would review the Christmas rules: "No. We've set out the details of the Christmas guidelines.
"There are no plans to review the Christmas guidance. What we've said alongside that is that the public should continue to be cautious.
"I think the Prime Minister said it's the season to be jolly careful and we would emphasise that we should continue to do that.
"We've been clear that it's a limited easement to allow families to bubble over the Christmas period after what has been a very difficult year for many people.
"But it remains important for the public to follow the guidance."
It comes as:
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan today called for a fresh plan to try and stop the capital going into Tier 3
- Matt Hancock will make a statement today on the latest Covid developments in the Commons
- Schools in Greenwich and Islington are set to close early- but No10 has said they should stay open
- It's unlikely that London will be split into different areas – as MPs have been told it's easy to spread the virus from one to the other
But scientists are worried that the relaxing of the rules will mean a huge spike in cases in January – traditionally one of the busiest times of the year.
This morning the Business Secretary Alok Sharma told ITV's Good Morning Britain it was a "personal choice" if people wanted to hug their grandparents this Christmas.
He said: "If people feel that they would be safer not doing that, that is up to them.
"I know that there are people who have taken a conscious decision that, whilst they may have their elderly parents come over Christmas, they will ensure that they don't hug them."
This lunchtime Nicola Sturgeon said people should bin their Christmas celebrations and hold parties in summer instead.
She said: "I understand why it might be tempting to have some sort of celebration or social gathering at work because this obviously has been a really difficult time for everyone.
"But office parties, especially if they involve alcohol, present a real risk of transmission.
"People are less likely to stick to physical distancing requirements than when they are working and more likely to pass around food or drinks without perhaps washing their hands as carefully as they should.
She said: "So I'm asking everybody please don't take these risks. By far the best way of marking Christmas with your colleagues this year is virtually."
This morningWelsh Health Minister Vaughan Gething said members of the public should carefully consider their actions over the festive period as the impact of increased coronavirus cases and deaths would not hit "just one Christmas."
He told the BBC: "We're not looking as our preference to disturb the Christmas arrangements.
"(Consider) should you go and see lots of different people? Should you see the maximum number permitted or should you think about how you can restrict your contacts?
"Because this isn't just one Christmas.
"These are many future life events we are planning for because the greater mixing, the greater the number of infections, the greater number of people who will need hospital care and the greater number of people who will not leave that care."
Wales is facing another full lockdown after Christmas to clamp down on cases that it expects to see as a result of the festive period.
And it has shut all secondary schools too to try and stop the spread of the bug.
In America cases are spiking upwards after Thanksgiving, and it's feared the same will happen in Britain.
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