Britons Told to Plan for a Christmas With No Virus Curbs
Christmas family gatherings in Britain will be able to go ahead as normal and there is no evidence to suggest extra virus restrictions will be needed, Boris Johnson’s government said.
“The plan is looking solid,” Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, who was previously the government’s coronavirus vaccines chief, told LBC radio on Monday. Asked if people could host big Christmas dinners and have their families around, Zahawi said: “Yeah, indeed.”
The government is banking on a vaccine booster program and light-touch social restrictions to keep a lid on the pandemic, even as other parts of Europe impose fresh lockdown measures as cases surge. The U.K. has recorded a high daily caseload since relaxing most rules in the summer, but ministers regard the pressure on the National Health Service as sustainable.
Still, there’s significant political pressure on Johnson following last year’s chaos, when the government dramatically changed course and canceled plans to allow families to see each other over the holiday season. That triggered scenes of panic at train stations, with people defying social-distancing rules to get out of London before the new rules took effect.
This year, Johnson has been adamant that Christmas will go ahead as usual, saying at the end of October that he saw “no evidence whatever to think that any kind of lockdown is on the cards.” Speaking to a business conference in northeast England on Monday, he reiterated that the government doesn’t see any reason to tighten the rules.
From Monday, all adults over the age of 40 can book a coronavirus booster vaccination, and Zahawi said it’s that program which is making the difference.
“That’s how we’re going to make sure we have a really good Christmas,” Zahawi said. “It’s still important to not be complacent.”
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.