It is “too early to say” whether strict lockdown rules will mean that Britons cannot spend a normal Christmas together, a senior minister has said.
When asked about the prospect of Britons being under strict social distancing rules during the festive period, Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News on Wednesday: “The prime minister has been very clear, as we all are, that we want people to celebrate Christmas in a way that is as close to normal as possible.
“But it is too early to be able to say exactly what the situation will be, come Christmas, and exactly what different parts of the country will or will not be able to do.
“Obviously checking the spread of this virus is paramount, but alongside that we want people to live their lives as close to normal as possible, including at Christmas which is an incredibly important time for families.”
The remarks come at a time when oppressive coronavirus rules have been imposed in parts of the United Kingdom. At its most extreme, people in Wales are banned from buying socks and other ‘non-essential’ items during a more than two-week “fire-breaker” lockdown.
England currently has in place a three-tiered system, with Tier 3 having the most extreme social distancing restrictions, where pubs are closed, and there is a ban on mixing households indoors or outdoors. The highest tier would stop extended families from seeing one another, for instance, if the measures are still in place in by Christmas.
The Sun reported on Tuesday that the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has claimed that there will be a rising number of coronavirus cases. As a result, SAGE advising Cabinet ministers that Tier 3 would need to be imposed across the whole of England by the middle of December.
‘People Will Die’ if They Spend Christmas Together, Says Disgraced Fmr UK Govt Scientist https://t.co/B7JYJLSGlR
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 25, 2020
The reported remarks from SAGE and the environment minister come days after the disgraced architect of the March lockdown, former government scientific advisor Professor Neil Ferguson, claimed that “people will die” if the government relaxes lockdown rules and allows wider mixing of households on Christmas day alone.
Imperial College London’s Professor Ferguson was forced to resign as government advisor in May after he had twice allowed his married lover to visit his home — in contravention of his own lockdown rules.
While the country’s police force was overzealously enforcing the lockdown laws earlier this year, the Metropolitan Police Service declined to investigate further Ferguson’s breach, merely calling the incident “disappointing”.
However, Britons may once again find themselves subject to draconian policing over Christmas if harsher lockdown rules were imposed. West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said that if households in his region — which is currently under Tier 2 lockdown — break the rules over Christmas, he would investigate and even enter private homes and separate gatherings.
“If we think there’s large groups of people gathering where they shouldn’t be, then police will have to intervene,” Commissioner Jamieson told The Telegraph on Tuesday. “If, again, there’s flagrant breaking of the rules, then the police would have to enforce.”
Merseyside police commissioner Jane Kennedy, whose region is under Tier 3, said that her force would do the same.
Former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith called the forces’ threats “utter madness”, saying that the UK will turn into a “police state”.
“We’ve gone too far, way too far, and we’ve got to stop it. We’re turning into a kind of police state. It’s bad for the police and bad for the public. The police police by consent – this is way past consent,” Sir Iain said.
Escape from Wales: UK Police Set Up Checkpoints with Lockdown Region https://t.co/oVDz1nSi96
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 24, 2020