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48 hour wait for four-nation Christmas covid plan says UK minister

24 Nov 2020 3 minutes Read
Picture by David Whelan (CC0 1.0).

The four nations have not yet reached consensus on a Christmas covid plan according to a UK government minister.

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, told the Today programme, that we may have to wait another 48 before a decision is announced on the matter.

The UK government has been negotiating with the Welsh and Scottish governments, and the Northern Ireland executive. It says that there is a “shared objective” to allow a “limited additional household bubbling” over a “small number of days” during the Christmas period.

When asked if an announcement on the matter would come today Mr Shapps told the programme: “No. I think what you’ll wait for is the tier system to come out, and an announcement about Christmas at the same time – unless it is the case that the four different parts of the United Kingdom, the devolved administrations, are ready to do that, in which case we’ll let people know as soon as possible.”

Mr Shapps said he thought the decision would come on Thursday, but he did not rule out an announcement before then.

Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister has been negotiating with the devolved administrations and is due to hold further talks today.

 

‘Cautious’

Speaking to BBC Politics Wales about the issue previously Welsh Government Health Minister Vaughan Gething said Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford “had another constructive conversation” with UK Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and other first ministers on Saturday.

Families will have to choose their bubble in advance and will be allowed to spend time indoors with them – including at the pub, according to the UK Government.

They emphasised however that people will be “advised to remain cautious” and “minimise social contact”.

Asked when an announcement could be made, he said: “We have a cabinet coming up this week. We’ll want to consider the conversations and how far they’ve got over the weekend.

“We’ll also want to consider the advice of our chief medical officer about the potential proposals for Christmas and to understand what that might mean in terms of the future health of the population but also the capacity of our National Health Service to help treat people and to keep them alive.”

An earlier statement on the matter by the UK Cabinet Office said: “Ministers reiterated the importance of allowing families and friends to meet in a careful and limited way, while recognising that this will not be a normal festive period and the risks of transmission remain very real.

“As such, Ministers endorsed a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days, but also emphasised that the public will be advised to remain cautious, and that wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact.”

They added: “In respect of Northern Ireland, Ministers also recognised that people will want to see family and friends across the island of Ireland, and this is the subject of discussions with the Irish Government.”

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