Relaxed Christmas rules could mean ‘unrelenting tsunami’ of Covid cases, nursing chief says

Boris Johnson urged families to keep their Christmas celebrations as small as possible - EPA
Boris Johnson urged families to keep their Christmas celebrations as small as possible – EPA

Relaxing coronavirus restrictions over Christmas could lead to an “unrelenting tsunami” of cases, the head of the Royal College of Nursing has said.

Swathes of southern and eastern England are preparing to enter the top tier of Covid-19 restrictions and more than two-thirds of the population will be living under Tier 3 measures from Saturday as the Government tries to stem rising infections. 

The surge in cases has led to fresh concerns about households mixing over the festive period and on Wednesday Boris Johnson said that cancelling family get-togethers at short notice would be “inhuman”.

But Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said ministers should give “fresh and more detailed” advice to the public with a week to go until Christmas and urged the Government to take immediate action.

“After a difficult year, it is everybody’s instinct to want to be together and see loved ones – especially those who live far apart or feel isolated. But what is at stake is coming into sharp focus,” she said.

“Travelling and family visits associated with this time of year will undoubtedly lead to more cases, more pressure on NHS and care services, and more deaths.

“By turning the second and third waves into an unrelenting tsunami, we would begin 2021 in the worst possible way.”

She said nurses would not enjoy Christmas “knowing what awaits them in January” and called on the Government to be “clearer about the risks – not just the rules”, warning: “This virus isn’t taking Christmas off and nor should we.”

Up to three households are able to mix between December 23 and 27, while travel to and from Northern Ireland is also permitted on December 22 and 28.

In a bid to control the spread of coronavirus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Thursday that Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Surrey (with the exception of Waverley), Hastings and Rother (on the Kent border of East Sussex), and Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant in Hampshire will all move into Tier 3.

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