The majority of Britons believe Christmas should be canceled this year as plans to ease restrictions during the holiday season have been announced, a poll has found.
A YouGov poll of 3,856 adults found that 57% believe the current rules should be kept over Christmas – instead of allowing bubbles from up to three households to mingle.
It comes as talks between the UK government and the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland broke off tonight without an agreement on whether to keep the Christmas ‘bubbles’ amid an upsurge in Covid cases.
Conservative MPs are growing nervous about the UK-wide proposals, after respected medical journals BMJ and HSJ warned the ‘reckless’ move ‘would cost lives’ and had to be deleted.
A YouGov poll of 3,856 adults found 57% believe the current rules should be kept over Christmas – instead of allowing bubbles from up to three households to mingle
As part of the holiday relaxation, up to three households are allowed to meet for five days between December 23 and 27. Shoppers on Regents Street pictured yesterday
Health committee chairman Jeremy Hunt said the government should listen to concerns “very, very carefully.”
And the British public seems to agree – with only 31% saying they want the ‘bubble’ scheme to continue. An independent Ipsos MORI study found that 49% of them thought the rules were not strict enough.
After days of sitting on the fence, Sir Keir Starmer called a Cobra meeting this afternoon to assess whether the loosening should take place, saying he was “increasingly worried”.
But although he insisted he would back the PM if he decided to reverse the bubbles, Sir Keir always stopped before backing the move. “Any further tightening of restrictions will obviously be deeply disappointing for many people across the country,” he wrote in a letter.
“But the public does not want false assurances, warm words or avoided challenges from their prime minister. They want leadership. ”
An increase in infections means London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be subject to level three restrictions from Monday evening
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, added his voice to the demands, but predicted that the Prime Minister will not change because he will not want to be seen as “canceling Christmas”.
As part of the holiday relaxation, up to three households are allowed to meet for five days between December 23 and 27.
Downing Street said all policies were under “constant scrutiny” but insisted the “intention” was to continue the plan despite an increase in infections, which means London and parts of it ‘Essex and Hertfordshire will be subject to level three restrictions from tonight.
In their blunt editorial today, the BMJ and the HSJ said: “When the government devised the current plans to allow home mixing over Christmas, it assumed that demand for covid-19 on the NHS would decline.
“But it’s not, it’s increasing, and the emergence of a new strain of the virus has introduced additional potential risk.
“Members of the public can and should mitigate the impact of Wave 3 by being as careful as possible over the next few months. But many will see the lifting of restrictions on Christmas as permission to let their guard down.
“The government took too long to introduce restrictions in the spring and again in the fall. He is now expected to reverse his rash decision to allow household mixing and instead expand levels over the five-day Christmas period to squeeze numbers ahead of a likely third wave.
“It should also review and strengthen the tiered structure, which has failed to suppress infection and hospitalization rates. ”
The article added that “the government is about to get it wrong in another major mistake that will cost many lives.” “If our political leaders fail to take swift and decisive action, they can no longer claim to ‘protect the NHS,’ he said.
An independent Ipsos MORI study found 49% thought the rules weren’t strict enough
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘There will be a four-country discussion later today to take stock of recent developments.
“But, for the moment, I urge the greatest caution.
“If you can avoid mingling with other households at Christmas, especially indoors, do it.
“But if you think it’s essential to do this – and we’ve tried to be pragmatic in recognizing that some people will – then reduce your unnecessary contact as much as possible by then. ”
The gravity of the situation Boris Johnson is facing was underlined as daily cases hit 18,450, up 50% last Tuesday, although deaths declined.