Great Britain

Coronavirus UK news latest – Christmas lockdown boost with THREE families able to mix indoors between December 23 and 27

UP TO three households can meet indoors over the Christmas period, UK leaders agreed today.

Households across the country will be able to meet inside buildings between December 23 and December 27 in a relaxing of lockdown rules that will bring festive cheer for millions.

Travel restrictions will also be lifted, as will rules on overnight stays - effectively meaning three households can spend a full five days together under one roof over the Christmas period.

The announcement comes as UK leaders met for a COBRA meeting to decide the country's Christmas coronavirus plan.

SAGE experts have previously warned that any easing of restrictions over Christmas could mean a third national lockdown in January, but as yet there is no indication on whether that will take place.

Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news, reaction and updates on the lockdown plans...

  • COVID CASES RISE IN ESSEX

    The number of recorded coronavirus cases in Essex have increased by over 200 in the last 24 hours, according to data from Public Health England.

    Figures show that in Essex 19,005 people had tested positive for the killer bug by 9am on November 24 – a rise in 202 cases.

    This was up from 18,803 recorded on November 23.

    Cases increased by 26 over the last 24 hours in Southend as 2,291 people have now been confirmed as testing positive, the Southend Echo reports.

    Across the UK, coronavirus cases increased by 11,299 in the last 24 hours – significantly lower than this time last week when 20,051 more infections were recorded.

  • RISHI VOWS TO HELP COVID GENERATION

    Chancellor Rishi Sunak is promising a multi-billion pound package to help thousands of Brits made jobless by the pandemic back into work.

    Mr Sunak said his “number one priority” was to protect jobs as a result of the economic pain caused by the pandemic.

    His statement will include £2.9bn over three years as part of a “restart” scheme designed to help more than a million unemployed people find jobs.

    The Treasury will provide regular support for those who have been out of work for more than 12 months.

  • AIRPORT BOSSES WELCOMES PRIVATE COVID TESTS TO CUT QUARANTINE

    Bosses at Doncaster Sheffield airport have hailed the Government's new coronavirus strategy as a “step in the right direction”.

    The 14-day period of self isolation will be cut to five days on receipt of a negative Covid test from a private provider, according to Transport secretary Grant Shapps.

    It's hoped that this move will give travellers confidence to book international trips abroad knowing the self isolation period once they return to the UK will not be as long.

    Doncaster Sheffield airport has seen an 80 per cent reduction in passenger traffic, the Star reports.

    A spokesperson for the airport said: “Today’s announcement from the Government, both in terms of significantly relaxing the period of self-isolation for inbound passengers and business support, are a step in the right direction for what has been a punishing year for airports.”

  • 'I WANT MAXIMUM SUPPORT'

    Cheshire West council leader Louise Gittins has demanded the Government provides “maximum support” for residents and businesses if the region falls into Tier 3 local lockdown restrictions.

    PM Boris Johnson announced yesterday in the Commons that England would return to a three-tiered local lockdown system once national restrictions expire on December 2.

    Cheshire West and Chester was previously under Tier 2 restrictions.

    Cllr Gittins told the Chester Standard: “I understand we will not be consulted on which tier we will be in, but if Government decide to place us in a higher tier of restrictions after 2 December we want this to be for a short period as possible with the maximum support to our residents and businesses.”

  • CAN I FLY ABROAD AT CHRISTMAS?

    Lockdown rules will be eased over Christmas to let people see their families over the festive season.

    People will also be allowed to go on overseas holidays over the Christmas period – but they will be advised against it.

    From December 23 to December 27 people will be able to join a "Christmas bubble" with three other households.

    But these bubbles are only allowed to meet at home, in places of worship and outdoors.

    They will not be allowed to go on holiday together.

  • CAN I TRAVEL TO AND FROM TIER 3 AREAS AT CHRISTMAS?

    Downing Street has announced a UK-wide approach to Christmas to let people from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland see each other from Christmas.

    Travel bans in areas with the worst rates of coronavirus infections will be lifted for a short period of time.

    It means people who live in Tier 3 areas in England who are currently told not to travel to areas with low infections rates can see family for the festive season.

    People in Tier 2 areas who were previously told to follow the same rules even if they do travel to other areas will be able to see families in “festive bubbles”

    Read our full report HERE.

  • HOW WILL THE SCIENTISTS BE SPENDING THEIR XMAS?

    Three different households will be allowed to mix indoors as part of the UK's Christmas coronavirus plan.

    But how are the scientists planning to spend the festive season?

    Prof Devi Sridhar, Chair of Global Public Health at University of Edinburgh told the Guardian: “I’m planning a quiet Christmas.

    “I usually go abroad to see family and take some holiday in a hot place (I’m originally from Miami) but given the pandemic, I am staying home within my bubble and planning to meet up with friends outside under current Scottish government guidance.”

  • BENFICA PLAYER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID

    Benfica have suffered a blow ahead of their crucial Europa League tie with Rangers in Glasgow this Thursday.

    Former QPR footballer Adel Taarabt has tested positive for Covid-19.

    Taarabt is the fifth member of the Benfica squad to test positive for the virus, The Daily Record reports.

  • STURGEON CAUTIOUS

    Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has expressed caution over the UK's coronavirus Christmas plan.

    Households across the country will be able to meet inside buildings between December 23 and December 27 in a relaxing of lockdown rules that will bring festive cheer for millions.

    She said “just because this can be done, it is not the case that people feel they should do it, if they don't have to.”

    “We're asking people to keep well within these limits, because there is a risk to households coming together.”

  • REACTION FROM DEVOLVED ADMINISTRATIONS

    Christmas is a chance to “spend time with all those we hold dear”, says Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.

    “This has been a very long and difficult year for everyone,” he said.

    “All our lives have been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.

    “We are looking forward to Christmas and a chance to spend some time with all those who we hold dear.”

  • CASES TUMBLING IN SUFFOLK

    Coronavirus cases are continuing to fall across all areas of Suffolk – except Ipswich where infections remain on the rise, according to Public Health England data.

    There were 645 new positive Covid-19 cases recorded in the county in the week to November 20.

    Mid-Suffolk has the second lowest Covid rate in the country, with 56.8 cases per 100,000 people.

    But, cases have gone from 84.7 to 134.4 per 100,000 in Ipswich, according to government figures.

  • FAMILY'S AGONY

    A 10-YEAR-OLD boy has died, becoming one of the UK's youngest Covid victims.

    Fehzan Jamil, who had underlying health issues, passed away in hospital after testing positive for the bug.

    The youngster's family, of Bradford, West Yorkshire described him as a “really brave fighter”.

    Heartbroken dad Mohammed told Channel 4 News: “There were four of us, now there are only three. The pain is indescribable.”

    Read more HERE.

  • 'LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL'

    Michael Gove said there was 'light at the end of the tunnel' after it was revealed that three households will be able to form a bubble over Christmas.

    The Cabinet minister told Sky: “There is light at the end of the tunnel but you are right it is important that we don't let things go too loose over Christmas.

    “And that's why we're stressing that these household bubbles should be an opportunity for people to meet close friends and family in a very restricted fashion in order to ensure that those we love can be with us at this special season.”

  • IN BRIEF

    The Christmas rules agreed across the UK are:

  • CAN I GO TO THE PUB WITH MY BUBBLE?

    Up to three households can meet indoors over the Christmas period, UK leaders agreed today.

    Households across the country will be able to meet inside buildings between December 23 and December 27 in a relaxing of lockdown rules that will bring festive cheer for millions.

    As it stands, it remains unclear whether households will be able to go to the pub together or mix indoors in other hospitality venues.

  • WHAT CAN YOU DO AS PART OF YOUR BUBBLE?

    Three households can form an exclusive bubble during the festive period.

    The bubble must be fixed and cannot be changed.

    You can:

  • DO KIDS COUNT OR NOT?

    Although it has been announced that three households can form an exclusive bubble over the festive period, it's not clear whether kids will count as part of the limit.

    In Wales and Scotland kids under 12 don't count in the Rule of Six, but they do in England.

    Nicola Sturgeon warned earlier today that the rules may differ for Scotland.

    It could mean that people in Scotland may be allowed to have different numbers of people round for Christmas dinner than in England – which would spark uproar across the nation.

  • A LIFTING OF RESTRICTIONS

    Cabinet Minister Michael Gove chaired a meeting with the first ministers of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    Three households can form an exclusive bubble.

    Travel restrictions will be lifted between December 23 and 27

    It's expected that there will be a relaxation on overnight stays.

    The plan has been signed off at this afternoon's meeting of the government's emergency COBRA committee.

  • CHRISTMAS CHEER

    Three households will be allowed to mix for up to five days in a plan to allow families to reunite at Christmas, Government sources have confirmed.

  • CASES RISE IN LANCS

    Another 361 people have tested positive for Covid-19 across Lancashire in the past 24 hours.

    It's a slight increase on the 356 tests recorded yesterday but follows the trend of falling case numbers in the region since the start of lockdown earlier this month, Lancs Live reports.

    Blackburn with Darwen has recorded the most new cases at 53. This is followed by Burnley (38) and Preston (36).

    Lancashire was under blanket Tier 3 restrictions before nationwide measures were introduced and it's feared that the 14 districts will be placed under the strictest measures once lockdown is over on December 2.

  • KENT BUSINESSES FEAR STRICT RESTRICTIONS

    High levels of Covid-19 cases in Swale and Thanet could see Kent enter Tier 3 restrictions.

    Many firms say the impact of harsh measures, following a month long lockdown, would see them go out of business.

    The exact details will be confirmed by the Prime Minister on Thursday, but there are fears that dozens of hospitality businesses will not survive if Tier 3 is imposed.

    “The news this morning that they're now considering putting the county under one group is totally unacceptable. Because this area is five times less in statistics than other parts of Kent,” Diane Ward, who runs a pub in Ashford, told ITV.

  • STILL GROWING

    UK coronavirus cases today grew by 11,299 as 608 more fatalities were recorded.

    The total number of Covid infections across the UK now sits at 1,538,794.

    This time last week, UK deaths rose by 598 while another 20,051 people tested positive for coronavirus.

  • XMAS WARNING

    British farmers are facing a mad rush to keep up with demand for Christmas trees as they try to make up for lost supply from Denmark.

    More than one million Nordmann Fir trees are usually imported to the UK each year from Denmark as it's Europe's largest producer.

    But an outbreak of a mutated form of coronavirus at mink farms in Denmark has put a stop to exports from the country.

    Heather Parry, managing agent for the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, said Covid – including the mink issue in Denmark – have affected imported trees.

    She said: “They are getting through customs, albeit more slowly than normal.

    “The vast majority of the 8-10million Christmas trees sold in this country are grown in the UK.

    “The Covid-19 outbreak has meant everyone has had to put additional measures in place to make sure staff and customers are safe.”

  • RUSSIA FUR COMPANY HEAD FLOATS IDEA OF VACCINATING MINKS FOR COVID-19

    The acting head of a big Russian state fur company floated the idea on Tuesday of vaccinating minks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, after millions of infected minks were destroyed in Denmark and cases of the disease were found elsewhere.

    The World Health Organization has expressed concern about the threat of people catching mutated strains of COVID-19 from infected minks.

    Two weeks ago, Denmark ordered all 17 million minks on its farms destroyed, after concluding that a strain of the virus that passed from humans to minks had mutated and spread back to humans.

    Ivan Nesterov, acting head of state fur company Russian Sable, told the Zvezda TV station on Monday that Russia was testing a vaccine, and could vaccinate its minks once the process was finished.

    When reached on Tuesday, he redirected questions to the agriculture ministry. The ministry's veterinary department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

  • 'JOLLY CAREFUL' CHRISTMAS CARDS HIT THE SHELVES MORNING AFTER JOHNSON'S SPEECH

    Christmas cards inspired by the Prime Minister's “jolly careful” speech have hit the virtual shelves less than 24 hours later.

    Boris Johnson used the expression at a press briefing on Monday night while advising the public to take precautions over the festive period – and by Tuesday card-makers across the country were capitalising on his Christmas catchphrase.

    Mr Johnson warned the nation that December is “not the moment to let the virus rip for the sake of Christmas parties”, adding: “'Tis the season to be jolly, but it is also the season to be jolly careful, especially with elderly relatives.”

    He added that the months ahead “will be hard” and “they will be cold”, but this foreboding speech has since been evoked in illustrations designed to spread Christmas cheer by retail giants as well as independent illustrators.

    Nottingham-based designer Hollie Robinson, 27, created a print showing the Prime Minister sporting a Christmas hat and giving a double thumbs-up in front of a Union flag, sold via her brand CaliPrintsbyHollie.

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