Sadiq Khan in anticipation of a possible surge during the Christmas holidays has urged the government to review the relaxation of rules in order to avoid unnecessary pressure on the NHS.
Following the ease of rules after the severe level of restrictions, the mayor appealed to Londoners while stressing that the following new rules over the festive period aren’t “mandatory”.
He said: “Just because you are allowed to see other households doesn’t mean you have to”
“If you are seeing an older relation there’s no need to kiss, hug, and spend too much time embracing them.”
The latest rules permit people to see their relatives and to form “bubbles” with three households between 23rd-27th December. The government has mentioned no plans to reconsider the plans but the health secretary, Matt Hancock on Monday warned he could not rule out “further action” after getting millions of people in London and southeast into the toughest Tier 3 restrictions.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 on the Today programme, Mr Khan said: “My concern is many people may have the virus, not realize it, they could pass the virus on to an older relation and we are so close now to the end of this – the vaccine is being rolled out and families will kick themselves if they pass the virus on during Christmas.”
Adding: “The experts are saying the relaxation in rules will lead to increase in the virus. The experts are saying we could well be seeing in January a surge in the virus for the simple reason that more and more people are mixing and mingling.”
In response to being pressed on whether he was urging the government to review the rules, he said:
“I’ve been clear to the government, I’m concerned about going from Tier 2 to Tier 3 to Tier 0 to Tier 3 potentially to a national lockdown and the NHS being overwhelmed in January and lives being lost.
“I think the government should look at the rules again, but it’s got to be a four-nation approach. What nobody wants is one rule for London and one rule for the rest of the four nations.”
He went on to add: “I welcome the government looking at the rules again. I welcome it if the government decides to amend the relaxation they’ve got. I think it’s possible for rules to be relaxed in a way that’s less unsafe than is currently planned.”
In another point of view to Mr. Khan, chief secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay said to Sky News: People have to “do the minimum” when visiting their families over the festive period.
She then elaborated: “All things are always kept under review”.
“There is a balance to be struck that many families have not seen each other all year. It is important for people’s wellbeing, for their mental health. We don’t want to criminalize people for coming together as a family over Christmas.
“But, it is important that people do the minimum that is possible. So, people will be making their own judgments.”
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