Boris Johnson under pressure as scientists back tight rules for Christmas

Boris Johnson under pressure as scientists back tight rules for Christmas

Boris Johnson will meet his cabinet remotely on Sunday today to decide how people will be able to gather with loved ones at Christmas, before the announcement of a new Covid winter plan.

The prime minister, who is self-isolating, will then confirm by video to parliament on Monday that national restrictions will end on 2 December and be replaced by the three-tier regional system, with even tighter controls in some areas.

The Observer understands that ministers are keen to agree a set of UK-wide rules that can be adopted for the Christmas period in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Talks with the devolved administrations were also taking place this weekend to try to agree a united approach that will apply for a limited period during the festive season.

Also on Monday the government’s key scientific committee, Sage, is expected to publish further papers setting out its advice that the previous tiers were not strong enough, and that a tougher regional approach is now required.

Downing Street saidon Saturday night that “while measures will be similar to those in place previously, the tiers will also be strengthened in some areas in order to safeguard the gains made during the period of national restrictions”.

It is expected that more areas will be placed into the higher tiers in order to keep the virus under control, and ensure further national restrictions are not required.

The new Covid winter plan is being thrashed out amid greater confidence about the use of vaccines and mass testing, and a growing feeling that restrictions can be relaxed substantially by spring.…

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