The health secretary has said the government hopes to implement “UK-wide” measures to allow people to see some family members from different households over Christmas “but still keep the virus under control”.
Describing Christmas as “the most important holiday for people in this country”, Matt Hancock said the government was in talks with leaders in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to agree a united front that would allow festive cross-border travel within the UK.
Wales’s first minister, Mark Drakeford, said he had held discussions with the Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, and the other first ministers of the devolved administrations on Wednesday about a UK-wide approach to Christmas restrictions, with another meeting planned for next week.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “We agreed some broad parameters on Wednesday and remitted officials of all four administrations to work now on the detail, so I remain hopeful that it will be possible to reach a four-nation approach to Christmas.”
Drakeford said an agreement on permitting travel across the UK during the Christmas season was “top of the list of things to agree”, even if a wider agreement was not possible.
“It is very important for people in Wales, so many families here will have families in England and elsewhere and will be hoping to have visits from family members who live outside Wales. On travel, I am more hopeful than I was even on other aspects of our discussion,” he said.
Talking to Times Radio, Hancock said: “I think it is important that we have an agreed set of rules over Christmas. It is the most important holiday for people in this country. What we’re trying to do over Christmas is ensure we have a set of rules across the whole UK so there’s talks going on with the devolved authorities as well to try to agree a common set of rules over Christmas. I think people would welcome that.”
He told Sky News: “It won’t of course be like a normal Christmas, there will have to be rules in place, but we hope that they’ll allow for a bit more of that normal Christmas that people really look forward to.”
He added that he hoped the rules would allow people to see “some of their loved ones, but still keep the virus under control”.