Covid: UK-wide plan for Christmas to 'allow people to see their loved ones' being discussed

A plan for Christmas is expected to be announced next week. Credit: PA

A UK-wide plan for Christmas is being discussed by the government and the leaders of the devolved administrations aimed at keeping people safe but also allowing people to "see their loved ones," the Health Secretary has confirmed.

Speaking to ITV News Matt Hancock said: "We're working with devolved administrations to try to agree a set of rules for Christmas that will keep us safe, be the same across the UK I hope but also allow people to see their loved ones which I know so many people are yearning for."

Mr Hancock said he hoped an agreed set of rules between the four nations could be reached saying "so many people travel to different parts of the UK over Christmas".

He added there were "early signs" the lockdown in England had brought down infections in England.

Earlier Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said he had talked to Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and the other first ministers on Wednesday about a UK-wide approach to Christmas restrictions, with another meeting planned for next week.

He said an agreement on permitting travel across the UK during the Christmas season was “top of the list of things to agree”, even if a wider agreement was not possible.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It is very important for people in Wales, so many families here will have families in England and elsewhere and will be hoping to have visits from family members who live outside Wales. On travel, I am more hopeful than I was even on other aspects of our discussion.”

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He added: “We agreed some broad parameters on Wednesday and remitted officials of all four administrations to work now on the detail, so I remain hopeful that it will be possible to reach a four-nation approach to Christmas.

“I certainly think that is the right thing to do – if it is achievable – and certainly Wales will be at the table next week looking to find an agreement.”

Mr Drakeford also said there were early signs the firebreak lockdown in Wales had been successful in lowering the transmission of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has conceded Christmas will be different this year, but it is expected some amount of relaxation on the rules around household mixing will be announced.

The UK government has been under increasing pressure to make an announcement over their plans for Christmas and has promised one will be revealed next week.

Matt Hancock acknowledged Christmas was the most important holiday of the year for many people. Credit: PA

Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at Liverpool University, said there was reason for optimism that the national lockdown in England will have pushed Covid case numbers to a low level before Christmas.

The member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’d like to be optimistic, but as an adviser I will stay in my lane and it is right for politicians to make these decisions based on the evidence.

“But we have got some encouraging evidence coming from the north-west of England."