Monday January 18, 2021

Britain allows mixing of 3 households under Christmas rules

Published : 25 Nov 2020, 00:02

  DF News Desk

A man wearing a face mask walks in a shopping mall in London, Britain, on Nov. 23, 2020. Photo: Xinhua.

Up to three different households across Britain can mix during a five-day period over Christmas, a senior British official announced Tuesday, reported Xinhua.

British Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said between Dec. 23 and 27, three different households can meet in a private home, a place of worship or outdoor public spaces.

However, the groupings must be "exclusive", which means people cannot get together with those who are not from the other two households.

It was 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", Gove said after the plan was finalized at an emergency meeting attended by the first ministers of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"We all know that Christmas this year won't be as it has been in years past. But all the governments agreed we should balance the need to protect public health with also allowing people to be with their loved ones," Gove said.

Also on Tuesday, official figures showed that the coronavirus-related deaths in Britain rose by 608 in a 24-hour span to 55,838, marking the highest daily death number since May 12.

Another 11,299 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 1,538,794, Tuesday's data showed.

The latest decision came after a leading British statistician warned Sunday that "there will be a price to pay for relaxing rules at Christmas."

If restrictions are changed to allow greater mixing at Christmas then infections will inevitably go up, David Spiegelhalter from the University of Cambridge, told Times Radio.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday a "tougher" tiered system of coronavirus restrictions to replace England's current lockdown when it ends on Dec. 2.

Johnson said he will announce which areas will fall into which tier later this week, probably on Thursday.

England is currently under a month-long national lockdown, the second of its kind since the coronavirus outbreak in Britain, in a bid to quell the resurgence of coronavirus.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, countries including France, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States are racing to find a vaccine.

According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Nov. 12, there were 212 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 48 of them were in clinical trials.