Christmas talks to continue amid concern over easing of rules

Growing pressure to reconsider plans due to concerns they could cause a fresh spike in coronavirus cases.

Christmas talks to continue amid concern over easing of rules Getty Images

Urgent talks between UK leaders on the easing of restrictions over Christmas are expected to resume on Wednesday.

It comes amid growing pressure to reconsider the plans due to concerns they could cause a fresh spike in coronavirus cases.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove discussed the scheduled festive easing with the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on Tuesday but they did not confirm a new position.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier argued there is a case for reducing the planned freedoms to combat a rise in infections and new variant.

But her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford said the current plans were a “hard-won agreement” and that he will “not lightly put it aside” ahead of the first meeting.

The talks took place after two leading medical journals warned that a lessening of restrictions would “cost many lives” and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer demanded an urgent review.

Downing Street conceded that the planned five-day Christmas easing to allow three households to mix indoors between December 23 and 27 was being kept “under constant review”.

Sturgeon earlier raised the prospect of splitting with the other nations’ approach and argued that it may be necessary to reduce the number of households allowed to mix, and the period they are allowed to meet for.

“I do think there is a case for us looking at whether we tighten the flexibilities that were given any further, both in terms of duration and numbers of people meeting,” she told the Scottish Parliament.

“And I will consider the views of the other nations – if we can come to a four-nations agreement, I think that would be preferable.

“If that is not possible, then of course we will consider within the Scottish Government what we think is appropriate.”

Earlier, the British Medical Journal and Health Service Journal published a rare joint editorial calling for the “rash” decision to relax measures over the festive period to be scrapped.

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