'In reality we can't ban Christmas': Professor says regulations could be relaxed over Christmas if tier system is successful

A professor and member of the Government’s Sage group says that tough regulations over Christmas could lead to rule breaches.

Sunday, 22nd November 2020, 9:34 am
Updated Sunday, 22nd November 2020, 9:35 am

Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at Liverpool University, said that trying to ban Christmas would lead to people breaching restrictions.

Professor Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "In reality we can't ban Christmas and to do so would simply lead to breaches and what are you going to do about that?

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Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at Liverpool University, said that trying to ban Christmas would lead to people breaching restrictions.

"So what we are looking at is getting the R down, but also get the absolute number of cases and there's real good news there.

"Nationally we are seeing cases in the community fall and in those areas that went into Tier 3 before lockdown we are already seeing the tide turning with the number of hospital admissions and we will shortly see the deaths reduce as well."

Professor Semple has said regulations could be relaxed over Christmas if the tier system proves successful.

He also told Sophy Ridge on Sunday that even if a relaxation of measures led to tighter restrictions later, these might not be "draconian".

He added: "There's every reason to believe that when lockdown is lifted many areas will be able to go into lower tiers, but some areas will remain in higher tiers.

"Then you have this period in the run-up to Christmas and, hopefully, if the system works, we will be able to relax some regulations for a few days, but there's always a price for that."

When asked if every day of relaxation would require five days of tighter restrictions, he said: "Yeah, I think in the round it's right but it shouldn't be seen that it is going to be draconian restrictions, it's just going to prolong restrictions and higher-level restriction for some areas."

it comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said that it is not going to be a normal Christmas this year.

He told Sky News' Sophy Ridge: "The Prime Minister will be setting out more details tomorrow about the next steps in our fight against coronavirus.

"I think the good news is we will be exiting national restrictions on December 2 as the Prime Minister said at the beginning of the month-long restrictions, we'll be going back into a tiered system, which is a far better way to tackle this on a localised approach.

"With regard to Christmas, I think frustrating as it is for all of us, Christmas is not going to be normal this year, but, that said, the Prime Minister and everyone else, we're looking at ways to see how families can spend some time with each other over (the) Christmas period.

"Obviously that's something that we would like to do and it's been a difficult year for all of us, but as I said it's not going to be a normal Christmas this year."

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