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'We should be trusting people to come to their own personal judgement' - Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick appeared on today’s Good Morning Britain where he defended the Government’s stance on household mixing over Christmas and claimed it has to come down to people using their “own personal judgement.”

Speaking to Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, he said: “What we have done is set out a legal framework that provides a maximum position for coming together at Christmas, if you want to do so - so you can have three households or bubbles for up to five days. But that is just a maximum, on top of that we are providing guidance, and we may provide further guidance in the days ahead, to say to people that you need to think carefully about whether this works for yourself and your family. You need to think about the particular circumstances about where you live, whether it’s a part of the country where the infection rate is high.”When Piers challenged him for sending out mixed messages, he said, “My view is that the law should provide a framework, but you can’t legislate for every eventuality. We do actually need to trust people to use their own personal judgement.”

Asked why the rules during the first lockdown in March were clearer than the Christmas rules, he responded: “Of course the restrictions we have had since March have been extremely restrictive, however they have always been a maximum… you haven’t had to go out to pubs and restaurants when they have been open, you haven’t had to bring six people together, these have been legal maximums and people have rightly chosen to do less than that when they feel that that has been right for their families.”

Asked if the advice is now to not go to the maximum, he said: “The Government position is clear. You can bring up to three households together, you can do that for up to five days, however there are risks in bringing people together as we know for a virus that thrives on social interaction, and so each family should consider whether that is appropriate or whether they might prefer to do something slightly less.

“To give you the personal decision that we have made as a family, my parents are in their eighties. We were hoping to get together at Christmas, my parents have chosen not to do so, partly because of the rising rate of infection and partly because of the good news about the vaccines, that they hope to be vaccinated early in the new year if not sooner.”

Discussing the massive impact that Thanksgiving had on infection rates in the United States and why we haven’t changed our rules in accordance with that, he explained: “Well, we are taking decisive action. The legal framework that we have already for Christmas is more restrictive than what they had in the US. In much of the US, there were no restrictions on how many households you could bring together for Thanksgiving.”

Pushed for a ‘yes or no’ answer on whether people should see family or not this festive season, Jenrick insisted: “I can’t give you a yes or no answer because I think circumstances vary in each household. I believe that we should be trusting people to come to their own personal judgement. 

The factors that you need to weigh up are how old are your relatives, are members of your family extremely clinically vulnerable, where do people live, are they travelling in or out of areas in tier three where the rate of infection is high? There are some people, I appreciate this is a small minority, who have been longing for Christmas, living for Christmas, and for whom they might have reason to believe they won’t have many more Christmases and so want to take an informed decision to bring together their family. I think it’s for those sort of reasons that the Government should be careful about being overly prescriptive.

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