UK may ease Christmas rules on signs of coronavirus cases flattening, says minister

A pedestrian wearing a face mask as a precaution against the transmission of the novel coronavirus, walks past a poster of a person wearing a face covering, in the high street in west London. (AFP)

Britain could ease its stringent COVID-19 lockdown to allow families to gather for Christmas because there are signs that coronavirus cases are starting to flatten as a result of current lockdowns, Health Secretary Matt
Hancock said on Friday.

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The United Kingdom has the worst official COVID-19 death toll in Europe and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed some of the most stringent curbs in peacetime history in an attempt to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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Hancock said that he was working with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for a UK-wide approach to rules for Christmas.

Read more: Coronavirus: UK reports 501 COVID-19 deaths, 22,915 new cases

England has been under lockdown for two weeks, which Hancock said was helping to flatten case numbers -- an important sign that things are starting to move in the right direction ahead of a decision on Christmas.

“There are encouraging signs that the number of cases is starting to flatten, and that the lockdown that we brought in, earlier this month, is working,” Hancock told Sky News.

England's lockdown is due to end on December 2, although ministers have not ruled out that it could be extended.

Asked about his own Christmas plans, Hancock said that he was currently planning a small Christmas within the existing rules, but he said he hoped there would be some relaxation, even if some restrictions had to remain.

“It of course won’t be like a normal Christmas, there will have to be rules in place,” he said.

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

Last Update: Friday, 20 November 2020 KSA 13:05 - GMT 10:05