Easing of Covid restrictions for Christmas: Key questions answered as discussions continue
Families could be allowed to join a temporary bubble to meet up over Christmas, it has been reported.
Household mixing is currently subject to harsh restrictions in England under the country’s second lockdown, with only support bubbles allowing people from different addresses to mix.
But according to the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, November 21, several families could be allowed to join a bubble and to mix between December 22 and 28.
The newspaper also said Prime Minister Boris Johnson will warn that the level of restrictions for the rest of next month would depend on how well the public obeys the current lockdown, due to run until December 2.
Downing Street declined to comment, but did not deny the report.
It is understood that further information on the rules for Christmas will be set out next week by the Government, alongside arrangements for what will happen at the end of the national lockdown.
Here, the PA news agency looks at some questions surrounding an easing of restrictions over the festive period.
*What is being reported?
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 UK, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The announcement of the plans – which will allow families to spend up to seven days together – is expected to come next week.
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.
*What else could be allowed under the plans?
Restrictions on church services are also due to be lifted allowing Christmas Day services to be held, the paper said.
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”.
*What consequences could follow from relaxing the rules?
Public Health England suggested that for every one day restrictions were relaxed, there would need to be an extra five days of tighter rules.
This would mean that an easing of restrictions for seven days between December 22 and 28 would mean more than a month of tighter regulations, according to this formula.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said there was “no magic number” relating to an easing of lockdown and a subsequent period of tighter measures.
He said it was more important people complied with whatever rules were in place if coronavirus infection rates were to be held down.
“There is no magic number about how many days this is going to cost us so we shouldn’t frame it that way,” he added.
*What will happen in care homes?
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”.
A pilot scheme has seen family and friends of people living in 20 care homes across Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall getting access to regular testing to allow them to visit their loved ones.
The scheme, which started this week, will be assessed by experts and the aim is to roll it out to other regions before the end of December.