Boris Johnson to announce ‘normal Christmas’ is off with tougher tiers after lockdown
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Christmas as we know it is OFF, Boris Johnson will declare on Monday.
Pubs and shops are set to stay shut in Covid-hit areas and scientists warn celebrations must be scaled back.
Boris will turn into the Grinch and will warn the nation: “This will not be a normal festive period.”
He will say the second lockdown is lifted on December 2 – replaced by a three-tier system tougher than the previous ones.
Just how many people can get together should become clearer on Monday in Mr Johnson's statement to Parliament and later in a TV address.
In high infection areas the top tier will be stricter than before and still feel like lockdown. It means:
- It is likely people will not be able to mix indoors or outdoors and bars, cafés, restaurants stay closed.
- There will be no trips to hotels and B&Bs, which will only cater for business clients on essential work.
- Schools, food shops, pharmacies, and vets will stay open.
- But hairdressers, cinemas and gyms will stay closed
It will not be a normal festive period, the PM will say
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The details of the tiers are yet to be finalised.
Tier one – with the rule-of-six limit on the number of people meeting up – will be much stricter as it did little to halt the spread of the virus.
No10 said: “The PM and his scientific advisers are clear the virus is still present.
"Without regional restrictions it could quickly run out of control before vaccines and mass testing have had an effect.
“That would put in jeopardy the progress the country has made and once again risk intolerable pressure on the NHS.”
The Covid Winter Plan should be signed off by the Cabinet on Sunday and presented to MPs on Monday.
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But the PM could face another rebellion from Tory MPs who will want to see evidence that yet more tiered restrictions are necessary.
Which area goes into which tier will be then revealed on Thursday.
No10 added: “The plan will also set out how people will be able to see their loved ones at Christmas, despite ministers being clear this will not be a normal festive period.”
The disease is still spreading in every region of England except the North West and Yorkshire.
The R rate is 1 to 1.1 – meaning each infected person is passing the virus on to at least one other.
Public Health England medical director Prof Steve Powis said: “We will not be going back to normal.”
Fellow SAGE member Prof John Edmunds added: “We will have to moderate Christmas.”
Psychologist Dr Stephen Reicher said: “The worst present you could give anyone is to infect them.”
Epidemiologist Prof Gabriel Scally said: “It’s no use having a good Christmas if you bury friends and relations in the New Year.”
Neuroscientist Prof Karl Friston added: “We’re talking months before we come out of this.”
The idea of a five-day relaxation – in return for 25 days of restrictions in January – were slammed.
Dr Zubaida Haque, of Independent SAGE, said: “The devastating outcome would be the impact on 20 million vulnerable people.”
Mathematical biologist Dr Kit Yates said: “A 25-day lockdown would make for the most depressing January ever.”
And Mark Adams, public health director for South Tees, even suggested yuletide celebrations next summer – fearing a splurge now could “cause massive damage in January and February”.
It's the gift that nobody wants
(By Katherine Henderson, president of Royal College of Emergency Medicine)
The festive period is important to so many people, but we must remember that Covid is still very much a serious threat and will be for some time to come.
It is my hope that after the strict measures implemented earlier this month we will start to see cases drop once again.
But that must not become a licence to mix households. This would risk repeating the cycle of transmission, infection, deaths – and further lockdowns.
Covid is the last thing anyone wants to give or receive this Christmas, so we must continue to follow the guidance. Please don’t waste all the good work that has already been done.
Our health needs a lift
(By Lucy Beresford psychotherapist and broadcaster)
We have seen a dreadful escalation of mental health issues in the pandemic.
We know that we derive a lot of wellbeing and support from our interactions face to face.
Right now we’ve taken away people’s structure, and we’ve closed Covid-secure gyms and hairdressers where people go to boost their mood.
Lockdown has added to stress and anxiety because maybe people have lost their jobs.
I would want to see a lifting of restrictions in the run-up to Christmas. Rituals such as buying the tree improve mood. I’m not averse to a January lockdown, when we traditionally retreat.