Matt Hancock calls for a 'balance' with Christmas restrictions
Matt Hancock hit out at Martyn Day for suggested the UK Government adopts Scotland’s approach to the easing of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas. He suggested that England should set a strict maximum number of people who can form a bubble during the festive days. But the Health Secretary branded the restriction a “burden”.
Mr Day asked: “It is important that the festive days ahead do not become a five-day mass get-together.
“Therefore we should use as little of the flexibility as a possible spread over several days ensuring that no one is facing Christmas alone.
“The concerns from medical professionals that the Christmas Covid relaxation will cost lives are not to be dismissed lightly.
“Will the minister agree with me that if people are to form a bubble that it should be kept as small as possible and if so, would it not be better to follow the Scottish approach which sets a strict maximum on the numbers of up to eight people from up to three households unlike the potentially unlimited number in England?”
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Mr Hancock replied: “This has been an incredibly difficult year for so many people and so many families.
“The fixed numerical limits have a particular burden on very large families.
“We have taken a balanced and the right approach.
“I understand the urge for caution but I also understand that people want to see their children, people want to see their loved ones and Christmas is an important time of year.”
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Mr Hancock said the three-household Christmas bubble rule is “not a limit up to which we should all push”.
Conservative chairman of the Health and Social Care Select Committee Jeremy Hunt said: “I want to ask him about Christmas, just a week away. Of course personal responsibility matters, but in a pandemic so does clarity.
“So irrespective of the law or the regulations, should we or should we not have indoor social gatherings with elderly and vulnerable family members?”
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Mr Hancock replied: “People should act with great caution. People should act with great caution in this pandemic because it protects them, it protects their families, it protects their loved ones.
“We’ve set out what the rules are but they are not a limit up to which we should all push. We can all act within those rules to limit the spread.
“And by reducing social contact in the days up to meeting a family member who may be, for instance, over 70, or any other family member, it is reasonable and responsible to take that sort of action.”
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said it would be up to individuals to make a “personal judgment” on whether they want to meet up with vulnerable family members over the holiday period.
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