No Hugs? UK Health Sec Suggests Social Distancing Still Required at Christmas

A Santa is seen in a coronavirus-safe plastic bubble at the Zoo in Aalborg on November 13, 2020. (Photo by Henning Bagger / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP) / Denmark OUT (Photo by HENNING BAGGER/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)
HENNING BAGGER/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has suggested that if lockdowns are relaxed over Christmas that hugging family and friends could be banned as some social distancing rules will still be in place.

Speaking to Times Radio on Friday, the senior minister said: “It’s about getting the balance right and allowing people to have a Christmas that undoubtedly will be different this year but still try to have that cherished Christmas with your family as much as possible.

“What we want to have is a set of rules that is, if at all possible, consistent across the four nations of the UK, not least because so many people travel to see their family at Christmas time, but also respects the fact that we must follow social distancing to keep the virus under control.

“I’ve got no doubt that people will continue to respect social distancing throughout, because we know that that is so important for full control of the virus.”

Also on Friday, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast that the holy days “won’t be fully normal” and that “there will have to be rules, unfortunately, to keep the virus under control”.

Several media outlets, including the Independent, The Sun, and ChronicleLive have pointed out that this may mean relatives unable to hug each other. Current rules mandate social distancing of six feet from people not in your immediate household, avoiding physical contact.

The suggestion comes as reports circulate that Boris Johnson’s government may loosen COVID rules for five days over Christmas — at the cost of spending most of January in a third lockdown.

England went into a second lockdown on November 5th, with it due to end on December 2nd. However, the country would fall back into regional tiered measures, with sources claiming that no part of England would be in the lowest category.

Last month leading figures in the West Midlands and Merseyside police forces said that they would investigate reports of Christmas parties in Britons’ homes if it were suspected they breached social distancing rules.

The commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Service, Dame Cressida Dick, said that she would not be wasting her officers’ time “interrupting family Christmas dinners”.

Speaking to LBC on Friday, she pointed out that officers had “no powers of entry” into Britons’ homes if there are suspected breaches of coronavirus laws, continuing: “I have no intention anyway of encouraging my people to be barging through people’s doors or knocking on people’s doors, unless you’ve got, as we sometimes do, a huge party going on which is clearly very, very dangerous and causing lots of concern – for them, we might be knocking on doors, saying you need to stop this.

“We don’t know what the rules are, let’s see what they are, but I have no interest in interrupting family Christmas dinners.

“The police have lots of other things to be doing.”

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