After the spike in Covid cases, the Prime Minister is being urged to change the decision to loosen up restrictions over Christmas.
After long discussions, the UK Government has decided to allow up to three households to mix for Christmas. After the huge surge in Covid infections, deaths and the fear of a third wave, Boris Johnson is facing pressure for not having rules ‘strict enough’.
Boris Johnson under pressure
The restrictions for the Christmas period have long been discussed by the Government with Britons hoping they would be able to see their families at least for the Christmas dinner. After weeks of discussions whether restrictions should have been loosened up over Christmas, the Government had taken the final decision to allow up to three households to mix over the Christmas period, from December 23 to December 27.
Government sources confirmed Boris Johnson’s announcement to allow households to mix for Christmas will most probably not be taken back, although experts, scientists, politicians and part of the public are urging the Government to rethink the decision, amid a worrying spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
The risks of spending Christmas together
The UK saw a worrying rise in coronavirus cases in the past weeks, both in the North and in the capital. Experts have long warned of the risks of allowing people to mix before it is safe to do so. Although Pfizer vaccine is now being administered in the UK, America and will soon start the rollout in Europe, countries are experiencing worrying figures of coronavirus infections and deaths. Experts warn about a third wave coming up after January.
The British Medical Journal and the Health Service Journal united to urge the Government to reverse its decision. They warned: “…We believe the government is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives. If our political leaders fail to take swift and decisive action, they can no longer claim to be protecting the NHS”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged ministers to rethink and discuss the decision to loosen up restrictions and said: “Inevitably when people are in their own households, they tend to be less vigilant. And my concern is that many people may have the virus and not realise it. They could pass the virus on to older relations“.
To toughen up or not to toughen up
After London saw a huge surge in coronavirus cases in the past week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced community testing would be rolled out to all 32 boroughs, in order to slow down the surge in cases, for the same reason, London was also put into Tier 3. Hancock confirmed: “Cases across London are growing rapidly and I know yesterday’s news [of Tier 3] will have come as a blow to many – particularly business. Over the coming weeks we will be rolling out community testing right across London and I urge people to come forward when it is made available”.
According to statistics, half the public thinks coronavirus restrictions are not strict enough. London’s biggest spike in cases is in Southwark with a 71%, then Enfield with 69,1%, Richmond 67,5%, Lewisham 61,8%, Greenwich 58,7% to name a few and registered in only seven days. Experts and scientists have warned Government the spike in cases is probably a sign of less social distancing restrictions. Labour leader Keir Starmer called on Boris Johnson to review the Government decision, saying the UK “lost control of infections, putting (our) economy and (our) NHS at grave risk in the new year”.
A senior Government source said ministers will probably advise the public to minimise social contact but will not be changing the Christmas rules.