Christmas to see ‘limit mixing’ between households ‘for small number of days’
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Limited mixing between households will be allowed “for a small number of days” over the Christmas period, the government has said.
Prime minister Boris Jounson will set out the basis of a plan for the festive period on Monday, as well as detailing a tougher three-tier system for England when the national lockdown ends on December 2.
However, it is understood Mr Johnson will not be able to say how many households will be able to mix over Christmas - and for how many days restrictions will be relaxed for. This announcement is expected later in the week.
Mr Johnson will still detail the strengthened tiered system in a statement to the House of Commons, but the full details of the festive relaxation are not expected until after the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland agree the plans with their own cabinets.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove met with leaders of the devolved administrations over the weekend when they “endorsed a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days”.
But the public will be “advised to remain cautious” and told that “wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact”, a statement from his department said.
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Meanwhile, the PM is understood to be preparing to unveil a plan to extend the curfew for pubs and restaurants so that while last orders must be called at 10pm, people will get an extra hour to finish their food and drinks, with opening hours to be extended until 11pm.
Downing Street will hope an easing at Christmas, potential vaccines on the horizon and new scientific evidence will lessen the scale of a rebellion, with the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) expected to publish papers on Monday saying the previous tiers were not strong enough.
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Mr Johnson was to meet with his cabinet to get their approval for the plans on Sunday, while ministers will set out on Thursday what tier each area will be placed in to when the lockdown ends.
Mr Gove, Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon, Wales’s Mark Drakeford and Northern Ireland’s Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill “reiterated the importance of allowing families and friends to meet in a careful and limited way” in a meeting on Saturday.
They also recognised it “will not be a normal festive period” while “the risks of transmission remain very real”, according to the Cabinet Office statement.