British Prime Minister Boris Johnson opposed calls to tighten corona virus restrictions on Christmas Day on Wednesday as London faced tougher measures and increased concern over the rising number of cases.
The government is putting more pressure on tough plans to allow up to three homes to meet indoors during the five-day festive window from December 23 as European neighbors control their mitigation plans amid epidemics.
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The move by the British Medical Journal (PMJ) and the Health Service Journal (HSJ) across the UK on Tuesday warned that the government-run National Health Service (NHS) would be overwhelmed.
But Johnson now insisted that “canceling Christmas” was inhumane, arguing that people should think hard about their plans and be “extremely cautious” when still allowed to gather.
Johnson told a news conference: “I wish you a happy little Christmas.” I’m afraid that means a little this year. “
After talks with the heads of the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the British leader said the rules should be seen as “not the maximum target”.
“We keep the laws the same – but we all want to send the same message: a little Christmas is going to be a safe Christmas, and a short Christmas is a safe Christmas.”
Johnson said there had been a “unanimous” agreement between London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast not to change policy, after severe social exclusion and locks.
But Wales’ first minister, Mark Drakeford, announced that in a five-day period, only two houses in the country would be mixed up.
“We mix with fewer people in our homes and are less likely to catch or spread the virus,” he told a regular conference.
Chris Witty, the UK’s chief medical officer, said there was widespread acceptance that Christmas relaxation could lead to more cases being hospitalized and dying.
But he said such decisions would “balance” the risks and echo calls for caution.
“Keep it short, keep it short, and think about the local and most vulnerable people,” Whitey said, circling Johnson down Downing Street.
Britain is one of the worst-hit countries in the world, recording 65,000 deaths from about 1.9 million positive cases, according to government figures.
Rising rates of infection in London and some parts of the south-east of the UK have raised concerns that January could be even higher, following the US Thanksgiving holiday.
Also read: Merry Christmas arrives in Europe infected with the corona virus
London moved to very high restrictions early Wednesday morning, forcing theaters, pubs and restaurants to close again, and banned home mixing.
Takeaway food outlets can still function and people can meet in public places outside in groups of six. Schools will also be open.
The move is another physical blow to the complex hospitality and entertainment sectors, which have suffered huge losses in revenue and jobs since the outbreak began.
Cases are doubling every seven days in some areas, with officials estimating much lower than expected last week with the launch of a vaccination program.
The government says nearly 138,000 people have been vaccinated against the Pfizer-Bioendech vaccine since last Tuesday.
Compliance with existing guidelines is an issue, and concerns have been raised about high rates of infection among high school children aged 11-18.
Increased testing has been introduced in the worst-affected areas of London and its environs.
Earlier this month the UK emerged from a four-week lockout, and the government introduced three-tier regional systems aimed at trying to reduce infection rates.
London is placed in “Tier 2”, which means that non-essential shops and services can be opened, but it is currently one of the highest infection rates in the country.
Under Tier 3, shops and hairdressers can still be open.