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West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson said officers would enforce coronavirus restrictions over the holiday season, even if it meant breaking up celebrations in private homes. TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley-Brewer questioned Environment Secretary George Eustice on the grim possibility. But as the Tory frontbencher said he “hoped” police officers will not have to knock on people’s doors this Christmas, the radio host blasted: “Hope? Is that what we’re doing in this free and democratic society?
“We just hope that we don’t have the police barging on our doors breaking up our Christmas dinner with our grandparents?
“Is that how we’re living now?”
He replied: “These extraordinary measures that we’re having to put in place are yes, very draconian, but they are emergency measures and they are short measures.
“I think most people understand why what’s being done needs to be done.
“The Prime Minister is clear, he wants people to be able to enjoy a family Christmas in a way that is as close as possible to normal.”
Ms Hartley-Brewer hit back: “You and I know that the rule of six won’t apply on Christmas Day because everyone will make a mockery of that and you don’t want to see police officers banging down doors.
“So you’re going to relax the rules in time for Christmas Day because extraordinarily the virus has its own calendar and doesn’t kill grannies on Christmas Day but does, say, on the 23rd of December.
“Do you understand why a lot of people think this is nonsense?”
Uniform guidance for family gatherings at Christmas must be devised between all four nations of the UK, political leaders have been urged.
Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon, Mark Drakeford and Arlene Foster were warned that their governments must “accept the inevitability” that people will travel over the festive period.
The call came in a letter from the Liberal Democrats in Scotland, Wales and England – together with the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.
They said guidance cannot be made in isolation given the “interlinked” nature of life in the UK, and called for a “four nations summit” to agree a plan.
The letter states: “It, therefore, falls on you and your counterparts to work across governments to explore workable solutions that can enable travel to happen safely.
“To manage the implications for public health, we are urging you to hold a four nations summit to co-operate on students’ return, to agree uniform guidance on the number of people who can gather, and to explore how best to expand travel options to allow social distancing.”
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Government’s failure to use the half-term for a circuit-breaker lockdown means they now need to “do something quickly to save Christmas”.
Mr Ashworth said the Government have “lost a window of opportunity” for a national lockdown over the holidays, which its scientific advisers and the Labour Party had been requesting for “two weeks or so”.
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Speaking on Times Radio on Wednesday morning, he said Government sources are planning for a Tier 3 lockdown in most areas of the country “at some point in November”.
When asked if he thought families would be able to meet in groups of more than six on Christmas Day, he said: “That’s in the hands of all of us, and in the hands of the decisions it (the Government) makes in the next week or so about what they’re going to do to get on top of this virus.
“I think because they’ve missed this window of opportunity over the half term, I’m worried now that what we’ll see is deeper, more drastic lockdown action over November and December, which sadly probably does put Christmas at risk.
“The Government have got to do something quickly to save Christmas for everybody because we want people to have a family Christmas, and I think it would be awful if people didn’t have that.”
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