It is too early to set out coronavirus rules for Christmas, according to the government, following reports that families could be able to mix
According to the Sun newspaper, the government is considering relaxing restrictions from Christmas Eve.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said he wanted his mum and dad and family around the Christmas table but it was too early for “conclusions” on rules.
He said people needed to keep bearing down on the infection and “do our bit”.
All four UK nations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – are trying to work out a common approach to Christmas to enable families spread across the UK to get together.
This comes after people in the UK may struggle to get their orders delivered in time for Christmas this year, with a shipping boss warning of chaos at Britain’s biggest port, that is “getting worse” and is leading to a “very challenging” Christmas period.
Asked when a decision on Christmas restrictions would be made, Mr Sharma told BBC Breakfast: “We just have to see where we get to.”
“I certainly would like to have as normal a Christmas as possible,” he said, but warned it may not be “as normal” as previous years.
It comes after Prof Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to the first lockdown in March, suggested extending support bubbles to up to four households to allow families to celebrate Christmas together.
“You could think of allowing three or four households to bubble together for a week but not contact anybody else, which would give more opportunity to see loved ones but not a free-for-all,” he told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme on Tuesday.
“And that, modelling would suggest, increases risk somewhat but in a controllable way.”
This year, Christmas Eve falls on Thursday and there is a bank holiday on the following Monday, giving most workers at least a four-day break.
Prof Ferguson also warned that reopening pubs and restaurants in the run-up to Christmas would be likely to lead to rising infection levels.
“The big question in practical terms is can we reopen hospitality venues, pubs and restaurants, in the run-up to Christmas and still avoid infection levels increasing?”
“I suspect we can’t, but the decision may be made to do so anyhow on the basis that any increase will be slow and may be able to be counteracted later.”
This comes after EasyJet has revealed its first annual loss in its 25-year history as a company of £1.27bn, a result of the coronavirus crisis turbulence that has grounded airline companies globally.
What is more, there are concerns the impact of lockdown will be more limited than hoped. We are yet to see infections rates start falling, although it is still early days, so there will be no final decision on Christmas yet.
But there is also a widespread recognition that even if the government bans mixing at Christmas significant numbers of people may well ignore it. The fear is that then starts to normalise breaking the restrictions and will make compliance worse over the rest of winter.