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A second lockdown is in place across England following the sharp increase in coronavirus cases. Starting on November 5, a month-long lockdown was instated to stem the spread of COVID-19 cases.
Cases in the UK have reached more than 1.4 million, with more than 53,000 deaths.
The concern for many Britons is whether Christmas will be affected by lockdown conditions.
According to the most recent data, the latest reproduction rate – the R-value – of the virus is still above one, meaning the disease is still spreading.
With the second week of lockdown underway, many are asking whether the lockdown could be extended.
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Is lockdown going to be extended?
As the initial lockdown began, an end date of December 2 was given.
Now Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted lockdown measures will end as first stated.
When lockdown lifts, the country will go back to the three-tier system.
This means local areas will face restrictions depending on their levels of cases – from the lowest Tier 1 to the highest Tier 3.
Tier 2 and Tier 3 prevent households from mixing indoors.
Mr Johnson has said he knows Britons feel “anxious” and “quite frankly fed up” with the pandemic.
On the subject of Christmas, the Prime Minister said England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will work on a joint approach to “ensure families can come together”.
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There have been suggestions of a few days away from restrictions over the Christmas period, in order to allow families to see one another.
With restrictions in place for much of this year, some families have gone months without seeing one another in person.
To allow for this, the public may be asked to travel by car and not by public transport over this period, and to avoid any big gatherings.
News of a vaccine has been brought hope around the world, however, doses will not be ready until the earliest the end of the year.
However, a Public Health England (PHE) director has said the public will need to make “every effort” to keep coronavirus cases low in December in order to gather at Christmas.
Dr Susan Hopkins, a senior medical adviser to the Government’s COVID-19 response, suggested tougher restrictions could be needed either side of Christmas if curbs are to be eased over the festive period.
She told a Downing Street briefing: “We are very keen that we have a Christmas as close to normal as possible.
“That requires all of us to make every effort over this national restriction period and even in early December to get the cases as low as possible and to reduce the risk of transmission within households and between families.
“A final decision will rest with the Government and we look forward to hearing what those plans are.
She said scientists had suggested one day of greater freedom required five days of restrictions.
Dr Hopkins said: “Some of the Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) advice previously suggested that for every day we release we will need five days of tighter restrictions, so coming into Christmas we need to be very careful about the number of contacts we have to reduce transmission before Christmas and get our cases as low as possible.
“Hopefully the Government will make the decision that will allow us to have some mixing… and once we have got past the Christmas period, if there has been some release and some socialisation, we will all have to be very responsible and reduce those contacts again.”
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