Families could have a chance for normal Christmas this year despite Covid, minister says

FAMILIES could still have a normal Christmas this year, Treasury Minister Stephen Barclay said today.

It comes after dire warnings from the country's top medics that the holiday season could be "digital".

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But Mr Barclay told BBC Radio 4 it was the Government's "common endeavour" to get coronavirus cases down low enough to let families celebrate together.

He said: "That is something we all hope to be in a position to do.”

In a sign of hope, the crucial R number fell slightly to 1.2 to 1.4 – down from 1.3 to 1.5.

A No10 spokesperson said today: "As the PM has previously said, he is  hopeful  in many ways we could be able to get some aspects of our lives back to normal by Christmas.

"We've been clear the ambition is to ensure that people may celebrate Christmas as a family this year."

But Mr Barclay dampened hopes of any crammed family celebrations, saying: "I think few people expect it to be exactly as it would normally because we will be living with this virus for some time."

"And the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser have been very clear on that.

"But, your point really was about the ability of families to spend Christmas together – that is something we all hope to be in a position to do."

Gloomy Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds claimed the country would need a national "circuit breaker" lockdown to keep Christmas lunches around a dining table and not on Zoom.

Yesterday, a Scottish health chief Jason Leitch sparked fury after telling Scots to prepare for a "digital Christmas".

The national clinical director for Scotland said the prospect of large family gatherings was “fiction this year”.

When asked about the chances of a normal Christmas, doomsday chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said last night: "I think the numbers speak for themselves.

"They are increasing and they are not going to decrease quickly."

He warned that "the numbers are heading in the wrong direction" and "a lot depends on what happens now and over the next few weeks".


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