Four-nations Christmas Covid truce hangs in balance

16 December 2020

6:16 AM

16 December 2020

6:16 AM

It’s become a regular refrain to hear that Brexit talks have been extended. Now the same applies to negotiations over the Christmas Covid rule relaxation. After various scientific advisers warned the UK government against going ahead with its planned five day relaxation of the rules (which would see three household permitted to gather together), representatives for the four nations discussed the policy on a call this evening.

The result? No decision as of yet. As things stand, there has been no agreed change to the rules. Instead one source on the call tells the BBC:

‘There was broad recognition commitment has been made to people and they will expect us to honour it – but there is a need to be stronger and clearer in guidance and messaging’. 

Talks are expected to continue tomorrow – and there is a chance that a unified approach is scrapped in favour of different rules for different parts of the United Kingdom.

Ministers in Westminster are reluctant to change the rules after Johnson told the public about the relaxation weeks ago. Instead, their preferred approach is a toughening of the rhetoric around the rules and a focus on individual responsibility to act sensibly and cautiously.

However, the devolved administrations may choose to go further with new restrictions on the length of mixing and the number of households. Christmas plans may have to change before the week is out.

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