UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on December 16 refused to tighten restrictions over the festive period despite a significant rise in COVID-19 infections across the nation, though admitted that British families should “have a smaller Christmas.”
In a statement given on Tuesday, Boris Johnson stressed Christmas this year is very precious during this “period of adversity,” and cancelling Christmas celebrations would be “inhuman.”
“We all want some kind of Christmas, we need it, we certainly feel we deserve it. But what we don’t want is to throw caution to the winds and allow the virus to flare up again, forcing us all back into lockdown in January,” he noted.
The Regent’s Street in London, the U.K. on December 17. (Photo/Wei Xindi)
The current Christmas restriction rules were announced by Downing Street on December 7, stating that people will be able to form “bubbles” of three households over a five-day period between December 23 and 27.
The Prime Minister’s decision of not tightening the current restrictions has received mixed reactions from both the public and some health organizations. Some say that the already strict rules have dampened the festival spirit and led to family separation, while others believe that more precautions are needed for the upcoming festival to avoid another surge of COVID-19 cases.
Local medical journals criticized Johnson’s reluctance on rolling out more strict measures during the festival period. According to a BBC report on December 16, the British Medical Journal and Health Service Journal published a joint editorial stressing that demand on the NHS was increasing, and added that the new strain of coronavirus “has introduced further potential jeopardy.”
“We believe the government is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives. If our political leaders fail to take swift and decisive action, they can no longer claim to be ‘protecting the NHS’,” said the editorial.
According to a YouGov poll, a majority of people (57%) in the UK believe the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas should be scrapped. Some 31% said the easing should go ahead as planned, while 12% said they were unsure.