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22 Nov, 2020 12:28

No ‘normal’ Christmas will be possible this year, UK finance minister warns, though families may be able to get together

No ‘normal’ Christmas will be possible this year, UK finance minister warns, though families may be able to get together

Christmas celebrations will not be “normal” this year due to the coronavirus situation, British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak has warned, as England prepares to switch from a blanket lockdown to region-based restrictions.

“Frustrating as it is for all of us, Christmas is not going to be normal this year,” Sunak told Sky News on Sunday.

At the same time, British PM Boris Johnson is “looking at ways to see how families can spend time with each other,” the minister added.

Christmas celebrations remain a subject of a heated debate in the UK, as multiple health officials have argued for scrapping them altogether or delaying them until next summer. The health chief for the Teesside area in the north-east of England, Mark Adams, called on Friday for “bumping Christmas to June or July,” arguing that family reunions in late December may undo all the progress made in battling the coronavirus.

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The size of family gatherings to potentially be allowed has also been a hot topic. A police chief has previously suggested they would enforce the ‘rule of six’ and crash any parties larger than this, invoking mass anger from Britons.

England, meanwhile, is preparing to emerge from its latest month-long lockdown, which was declared in early November following a surge in Covid-19 cases. As the national measures are set to end on December 2, England will move into a tiered regional restriction mode, expected to be even tougher than before.

Before the latest lockdown, England had a three-tier restriction system, with the toughest limitations imposed in the north. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are also still under varying levels of restrictions imposed by local governments.

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The UK as a whole remains among the worst coronavirus-hit nations in Europe with nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases, falling behind only France and Spain in terms of the total Covid-19 tally. At the same time, with some 54,700 reported deaths it has by far the worst death toll among the European nations.

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