Politics

Christmas in the balance: Sturgeon warns Scotland’s lockdown changes will be ‘slight’

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Nicola Sturgeon said she hopes to give details by the end of the week – despite Mr Johnson setting out his plans later today for a strengthened three-tier system when England’s nationwide lockdown ends next month in the run-up to Christmas. Speaking at the daily briefing, the First Minister said: “We’re making progress towards a common position across the UK, which we think is important because of family patterns.

“But I think it’s important for me to be clear that the details of this approach are still to be finalised.

“We hope we will be in a position to confirm our conclusions later in the week.

“I know there is a lot of understandable speculation about what may be allowed but I urge everyone to wait until we’ve reached that final conclusion.

“I’m going to be pretty frank with you here, this is at a time where every decision seems to be difficult to get the right balance.

“This is a particularly difficult balance to strike and public opinion on this is quite mixed as you expect it to be.”

Mr Johnson will set out the basis of plans to allow a small number of households across the UK to mix over a limited number of days around Christmas, but is not expected to be in a position to give the specifics.

Downing Street will hope an easing at Christmas, potential vaccines on the horizon and new scientific evidence will lessen the scale of a rebellion, with the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) expected to publish papers on Monday saying the previous tiers were not strong enough.

But the CRG, led by former Brexit minister Steve Baker and ex-chief whip Mark Harper, warned against any post-Christmas increase in restrictions to counteract the relaxation in a letter to the Prime Minister signed by 70 Tories.

A free-for-all approach to Christmas could result in Ireland being plunged into another period of lockdown in January, a Dublin government minister has warned.

Ireland is due to leave Level 5 restrictions on December 1, with the Government set to announce plans to move forward within the next number of days.

Pippa Hackett, Minister of State in the Department for Agriculture, ruled out a complete reopening of society for Christmas.

“There is no point indicating to people we are going to open up for two weeks at Christmas because that is just a free for all,” she told RTE’s The Week In Politics programme.

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“As difficult as it is now to get people to adhere to the regulations, a free-for-all two-week holiday at Christmas, that will be lockdown after Christmas.”

She went on: “We have a week or so now to really buckle down, obey what we have been asked to do.

“Young and old should be really coming together to do this.

“Ultimately we will have to act on the advice from public health and that’s the most important piece.”

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