Coronavirus news – live: Christmas rules could be decided today as Cobra meeting convenes

Chantal Da Silva and Sam Hancock
·2-min read
<p>Matt Hancock select committee</p> (Reuters TV)

Matt Hancock select committee

(Reuters TV)

UK residents could soon have a better picture of what the Christmas season will look like, with the UK Government and devolved administrations prepared to come together for a Cobra meeting to hash out a plan that will allow families to reunite ove the holidays.

The Government’s meeting with leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will focus on a four-nation approach to relax coronavirus restrictions over the festive period.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he hopes “damaging social distancing” measures aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus can be lifted after Easter.

“After Easter, we think we will be getting back to normal,” Mr Hancock said on Tuesday morning.

While the health secretary said some measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, such as frequent handwashing, will likely be with us for some time, he said some of the more “damaging social distancing interventions” will hopefully be lifted.

Whether or not they are, he said, will likely depend largely on how soon vaccine distribution is able to get underway.

The health secretary’s comments come as England prepares to enter into a “tougher” three-tier system until the spring as soon as it comes out of a month-long lockdown on 2 December.

Plans for the new tier system come as the number of weekly coronavirus deaths in England and Wales has surpassed 2,000 for the first time since May.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, there were 2,466 deaths involving Covid-19 registered in the week ending on 13 November.

The number represents the highest in England and Wales since the week ending on 22 May, when 2,589 deaths were registered.

It also represents a rise of 529 deaths from the week prior, ending on 6 November, when 1,937 deaths involving Covid-19 were recorded.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said his Government is working on a plan that will allow families to reunite over Christmas.

Part of that plan appears to include a new rule permitting travellers arriving in the UK to end the mandatory quarantine period early with a negative coronavirus test after five days.

The new rule is expected to come into effect from 15 December, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced.

The travel industry has welcomed the new rule, calling it “long overdue”.