Health Care

Britain may allow Christmas as Covid cases start to flatten

Britain may allow Christmas as Covid cases start to flatten”

It is due to end on December 2, although ministers have not ruled out that it could be extended. It also emerged yesterday more than 40 mass vaccination centres will be set up across England to give out jabs. Coronavirus case numbers have plunged by a third in a week, fuelling hopes the second lockdown is dramatically curbing the spread of the disease.

There had been a further 19,609 lab-confirmed cases in the United Kingdom as of 9am on Wednesday, taking the total to 1,430,341.

He told Today: "We've changed the law to change the number of clinically qualified people who can vaccinate because this is going to be one of the biggest civilian projects in history".

Mr Hancock added: "It's about getting the balance right and allowing people to have a Christmas that undoubtedly will be different this year but still try to have that cherished Christmas with your family as much as possible".

The Government will ask people to take personal responsibility if they have visitors in their homes but they will not impose a limit on how many friends or family members you can have in your house.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Prof Hayward told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'Mixing at Christmas does pose substantial risks, particularly in terms of bringing together generations with high incidence of infection with the older generations who now have much lower levels of infection and are at most risk of dying if they catch Covid.

He said there had been "far too much emphasis" on having a normal festive period.

But he added: "Christmas is a special time of year and we've had such a hard year in 2020 - it has been such a awful year and having some hope, some joy at Christmas, I know that would be welcomed by so many people".

He said that the country is literally on the "cusp" of being able to protect grandparents with a vaccine.

Professor Gabriel Scally, a public health expert at Bristol University, is one of a group of scientists that has been critical of the Government's handling of the crisis.

Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, has also warned restrictions may need to remain in large parts of England after December 2 to stop infection levels rebounding immediately.

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Scientists have said that for every day measures are eased, five days of tighter restrictions would be needed.

But the Sage assessment only considers the preliminary findings from unpublished modelling.

"We don't know what the rules are, let's see what they are, but I have no interest in interrupting family Christmas dinners".

'It needs to be clearly below one and it needs to get to low levels, rather than the high levels that we still have'.

Next week, Mr Johnson is expected to outline a "four nations" plan for Christmas, setting out proposals for families to spend up to seven days together.

People will be asked to choose one day for a significant family gathering to celebrate Christmas.

Downing Street declined to say whether door-to-door carol singing would be allowed but the PM's spokesman said there would be no ban on the sale of mistletoe. Singing has been identified as a possible way of spreading the disease.

She told a Downing Street briefing: "We are very keen that we have a Christmas as close to normal as possible".

"But we hope that they'll allow for a bit more of that normal Christmas that people really look forward to".

Several senior Government figures including Ministers and officials yesterday said there are no plans to extend the lockdown beyond December 1. I still think we'll have to have restrictions in place, except probably this little window over Christmas, when I'm sure we'll relax to some extent'. I'm not campaigning for that. I want to protect lives.

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