Great Britain

Normal Christmas is ‘extreme wishful thinking’ says Sage expert demanding a national lockdown

A NORMAL Christmas this year is "wishing thinking in the extreme" a Government scientific adviser has said.

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the SAGE committee said that "radical action" would need to take place in a bid to stop the rise in coronavirus cases.

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Prof Edmunds said: "The only way that we can have a relatively safe and normal Christmas is if we take radical action now to reduce incidence - at the very least in high incidence areas - and keep the incidence low across the country by implementing a package of measures to reduce social contacts

"The notion that we can carry on as we are and have a Christmas that we can celebrate normally with friends and family is wishful thinking in the extreme."

The scientific adviser said that further measures would be needed to bring cases down.

He told a reporter that a circuit-breaker is needed across the whole country or at least in areas where incidence is high.

It comes after Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay said he hoped families would be able to spend Christmas together even if things are not exactly the same.

Asked how he would describe the chances of people having a "normal Christmas" despite Covid-19 restrictions, Mr Barclay told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I would describe it as a shared endeavour for all of us.

"All of us want to be able to enjoy Christmas with our families. And that's why there is a common purpose here to get the virus down."

Referring to Christmas, Mr Barclay said: "I think few people expect it to be exactly as it would normally because we will be living with this virus for some time.

"And the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser have been very clear on that.

"But, your point really was about the ability of families to spend Christmas together - that is something we all hope to be in a position to do."

Earlier today the PM said the Government's ambition was to "ensure that people may celebrate Christmas as a family this year".

Mr Johnson is "hopeful" that "some aspects of our lives" could be "back to normal" by then, he added.

On Wednesday Prof Edmunds also warned that Brits could face a second Covid peak at Christmas if a national lockdown was not implemented now.

The Government adviser said the three-tier lockdown system will only slow the spread of the virus and will not shrink it.

A further 224 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, while as of 9am there had been a further 20,530 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

Sweeping new restrictions were imposed on millions more people on Friday, with Greater Manchester moving into the highest alert level, Tier 3, and Wales introducing its two-week "firebreak" lockdown at 6pm.

Coventry, Stoke and Slough will enter Tier 2 on Saturday, while Warrington is set to be placed into Tier 3 from Thursday next week, the local council said.

Tier 3 restrictions are also expected to come into force in parts of Nottinghamshire on Wednesday.

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