HOPES for Brits having a family Christmas have been bolsteredas lifting restrictions for two days would only have a "limited impact" on coronavirus spreading, a top expert has said.

Professor Neil Ferguson, the man behind Britain's March lockdown, said one of two days of relaxing lockdown rules wouldn't cause the virus to drastically spread out of control.

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Professor Ferguson told BBC Radio 4: "If it is only one or two days the impact is likely to be limited. 

"So that is really a political judgment about the cost versus the benefits."

But he warned: "It risks transmission and there will be consequences of that. Some people will die because of getting infected on that day."

Boris Johnson has said he is "hopeful" Christmas could be as close to normal as possible.

And a spokesperson from No10 reiterated their goal to let Christmas be as normal as possible: "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."

Yesterday, Treasury secretary Stephen Barclay promised it was the Government's "common endeavour" to drive coronavirus cases down far enough to let families see one another for Christmas.

He said: "I hope the huge effort that the British public is putting in will get the virus down and we will be able to enjoy Christmas with our family. It is a common cause."

It comes as:

  • South Yorkshire was plunged into Tier 3 restrictions today – and the Sheffield Mayor demanded even more money
  • A study revealed Brits are fed up with lockdown and willing to break restrictions
  • Only one in ten people self isolate when contacted by NHS Test & Trace
  • A £5 saliva test could give people coronavirus results in 15 minutes by Christmas
  • A "firebreak" lockdown came into force in Wales – and people were banned from buying clothes & duvets in shops

But Mr Barclay warned even if celebrations were on, they wouldn't be quite the same as normal, with families piling in around a packed dining table.

"I think few people expect it to be exactly as it would normally because we will be living with this virus for some time.

"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."

Downing Street's mission to keep the festive cheer comes after Scotland gave up the fight as health chief Jason Leitch told people to gear up for a "digital Christmas".

He told Scots the prospect of large family gatherings was “fiction this year”.

England's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said there was still time to allow Christmas to happen and "a lot would depend on what happens in the next few weeks".

And he bolstered hopes even more, saying vaccine doses could be ready in time for Christmas.

But he gave Brits a stern warning on following the rules, saying "the numbers are heading the wrong direction."


And Sage member Professor John Edmunds said England needed to take "radical action" to save Christmas.

He said: "The only way that we can have a relatively safe and normal Christmas is if we take radical action now to reduce incidence and keep the incidence low across the country by implementing a package of measures to reduce social contacts.

"The notion that we can carry on as we are and have a Christmas that we can celebrate normally with friends and family is wishful thinking in the extreme."

Wales have taken an even more hardline approach – returning to almost full lockdown until November 9 in a bid to rescue Christmas.

The Welsh heath minister Vaughan Gething told BBC Breakfast the "firebreak lockdown" was the best shot at getting Christmas dinners on a table and not over Zoom.

Mr Gething said: "We want to be able to get to Christmas with people able to see each other, but we have to look at where we are with the virus, how we're behaving in Wales, whether we're able to effectively suppress it after the firebreak.

"This gives us the best chance of doing that, but if I were to tell you what Christmas looks like today then I'd be making it up, I'd be giving people false hope, and that's absolutely what we should not be doing."

But the ferocity of the Welsh lockdown has sparked mass anger after "non essential" items – including books and clothing – were banned in supermarkets.

And Gloucestershire Police warned they would keep an eye out for people making journey's across the border to buy things they can't get in Wales.

Gloomy Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds claimed the only way to have a family Christmas was to have a similar national "circuit breaker" in England.

But Labour ministers have even suggested having such a hardline shutdown over the Christmas break – dashing all hopes of a family reunion.


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