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News: COVID-19 rules for Christmas scrutinized in the UK

The UK was poised to relax Covid-19 restrictions in the coming weeks to allow for families to see each other at Christmas but has faced recent criticism from the medical community. A joint editorial from The British Medical Journal and the Health Service Journal called for the eased restrictions to be revoked, lest lives are lost over the holidays.

The original holiday plan would allow up to three households to mix over a five-day period during Christmas in a so-called “Christmas Bubble”, a reprieve from the current restrictions in place for most of the UK. The editorial warns that the relaxed restrictions could overwhelm the NHS, which is already facing the third wave of the virus.

One prominent fear presented in the editorial was the increased waiting time for elective procedures that might arise from a substantial third-wave of the virus. The journals argued that such an increase would almost certainly occur if Covid-19 cases rise as substantially as they are projected to over the holiday period.

Jeremy Hunt, former health secretary and current chairperson of the Commons' health committee seconded the call for increased caution over Christmas, citing high levels of bed occupancy from Covid-19 as a “dangerous and precarious situation” for the NHS to find themselves in this new year.

The editorial proposes that the UK should work to mitigate the impact of the third wave by exercising as much caution as possible over the next few months, and calls for a strengthening of the existing tier system to limit the spread and protect the resources of the NHS.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister has advised that the restrictions are constantly under review and that a cabinet meeting will reconvene tomorrow to confirm any decisions made,

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