Great Britain

Illegal Christmas Day gatherings could get split up, police say

POLICE chiefs have urged the public to abide by Coronavirus regulations over the festive period, after it was suggested police may break up gatherings on Christmas Day if they are in breach of restrictions.

It was reported in national newspapers yesterday that in the West Midlands police would break up illegal gatherings at Christmas, and during other religious festivals such as Diwali or Hannukah.

Bradford is currently in Tier 2 restrictions, banning households from mixing indoors in any locations unless they have formed a social bubble, and the Rule of Six is in force in all areas including outdoors in parks and in private gardens.

If the district is moved in Tier 3, people can only meet others outside their bubble in public areas but must maintain social distancing and the Rule of Six. Pubs will also be forced to close unless they serve food and the 10pm curfew remains as it does in all areas.

This means that the big family Christmas, Diwali and Hannukah celebrations of previous years cannot take place, with only social bubbles able to meet and the Rule of Six in place.

In the West Midlands, police and crime commissioner David Jamieson said “its not the police’s job to stop people enjoying Christmas” but they would have to intervene if rules are being broken.

He said: “If we think there's large groups of people gathering where they shouldn't be, then police will have to intervene.

“If, again, there's flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce.

“It's not the police's job to stop people enjoying their Christmas. However, we are there to enforce the rules that the Government makes, and if the Government makes those rules then the Government has to explain that to the public.”

When asked if this would be the case in West Yorkshire, the office of police and crime commissioner referred to National Police Chiefs’ Council advice.

A spokesperson for the NPCC said: “It wouldn’t be right for policing to speculate about what restrictions will look like, and what areas of the country might be affected by them around Christmas. These are public health decisions, to be taken by others.

“We can only work to the regulations in place at that time, and whatever happens by then we’ll engage sensibly, proportionately, fairly, and using the well-established 4Es approach.

“We ask that everyone continues to check the rules in their area and follows the rules in place for everyone’s safety.”

Last night Justice Secretary Robert Buckland gave the clearest Cabinet indication yet that Christmas is semi-cancelled.

He said: “We’ve got to be realistic that if we are seeing these trends continuing right through to December then Christmas in its fullest sense won’t be possible for any of us this year.

“It doesn’t mean we can’t have Christmas but extended gatherings may not well be possible from the picture that is emerging.”

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