Christmas will be “very difficult” this year because of coronavirus social distancing restrictions, the Welsh health minister has told Sky News.
Vaughan Gething said there needed to be a “national conversation about the rules we’re all going to need to follow” to make sure everyone can have “some company” over the festive period.
He admitted it would be “dislocating” for some and that he has not hugged his own mother for seven months, as Wales prepares to enter a 17-day national lockdown to stem a COVID-19 second spike.
Mr Gething was pressed on whether family gatherings will be able to go ahead, after Scotland’s national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch said people should brace for a “digital Christmas”.
He said the so-called “fire breaker”, which will see non-essential shops ordered to close from tonight until Monday 9 November, was needed to get ahead of coronavirus this winter as cases and deaths rise.
“We’re acting now because we want people to have some company at Christmas,” the Labour politician told Kay Burley.
“We’ve got to have a national conversation about the rules that we’re all going to need to follow afterwards to make sure people can have some company at Christmas. But it is dislocating.
“I’ve not been able to hug my own mother for seven months now. I do her shopping, but I can’t go into the house, can’t see her, can’t hold her hand and that’s really dislocating.
“I want people to have some sense of normality but it won’t be like last Christmas.
“It’ll still be a very difficult sort of Christmas. That’s part of the reason why this national effort is so important – we do this with a heavy heart.”
In England, chief secretary to the treasury Steve Barclay also said “few people expect it to be as it normally would be”.
But he added to BBC Radio 4 that a normal Christmas was a “shared endeavour for us all” and everyone should be in a position to “enjoy” it.
He also confirmed the government will not pursue a “circuit-breaker” similar to the Welsh government’s plan to push the virus back, saying a localised approach was best.
Mr Gething said it was the “best prospect of arresting the sharp rise we’re seeing in coronavirus cases”.
And he defended the plan to stop supermarkets from selling some non-essential items like hairdryers and other electronic products, to avoid putting other shops forced to close at a disadvantage.
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