Boris Johnson Says Personal Judgment Needed When Forming a ‘Christmas Bubble’
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that at Christmas families will themselves have to decide whether to meet up with elderly and at-risk relatives during a five-day festive period relaxation of restrictions.
“The virus has not gone away and families will need to make a personal judgment about the risk of forming a bubble with or visiting elderly relatives and the vulnerable,” he said.
This follows confirmation of an agreement between England and the three devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales that up to three households can mix from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27 with an additional day on either side for those going to and from Northern Ireland.
The households can meet, the agreement says, in a “Christmas bubble” at home, outdoors, or in places of worship but not at indoor hospitality or entertainment venues.
Nor, once formed, can bubble members be changed at any time over the five days.
The relaxation of rules for Christmas has met with criticism from a member of SAGE, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies which advises the government, and which has played a key role in Britain’s response to the pandemic.
The government has “given a green light to families to get together over Christmas” said SAGE member Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London.
He told the BBC’s Newsnight programme on Tuesday that “What this will be doing is throwing fuel on the Covid fire.”
Decisions Devolved Down to the Individual
Meanwhile, Graham Medley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, also involved with SAGE, said that decision making on the virus was being devolved down to the individual.
“We are in a process now whereby the population risk, so filling up the NHS, is really being passed down to us as individuals,” he told the BBC’s Today programme on Wednesday.
“I think for this Christmas it’s going to be up to us as individuals and as families to think about what our risks are and how we are going to manage them and mitigate them,” he said.
CCP virus restrictions across the UK are set to undergo yet further permutations ahead of the Christmas season.
Johnson said people in England will know later this week which areas will fall into the three different categories.
The government said that devolved administrations will set out their own rules on support bubbles and extended households but that in England bubbles will continue to be counted as one household.
On Tuesday new recorded cases were the lowest for six weeks at 11,299, down from 15,450 on Monday.