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Asked whether people could plan gatherings given the threat of new Covid restrictions, the Health Minister said: “If you can’t change your plans quickly, then maybe think about it.
“There is uncertainty. We can’t predict what the data is going to tell us.
“We are trying to take a balanced and proportionate approach so that people can see their families over Christmas to try and plan some stuff.
“But of course it is difficult to anticipate.” Asked if further restrictions were a certainty, Ms Keegan said: “We’ve said we have to keep that option open because you know we are looking at cases that are going up at the moment and we are looking at hospitalisation, which is going up.”
She added: “We do have to reserve that option and we won’t hesitate if it’s required to keep people safe.”
Questioned whether there is any chance that a circuitbreaker lockdown will not happen, Ms Keegan said: “We are waiting for data on the severity.We’ll still have to wait to see where we land on that, but we can’t really say.
“We’ve said up to Christmas we’re fine looking at the data, looking at the numbers we Data…Gillian Keegan have at the moment. But, of course, we have to look at where this virus goes, where this variant goes, so we have to look at that data.
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“I can’t tell you in advance of getting that data, but you should be cheerful because we’re doing a lot more than we could last year.We’re able to see our families.”
She added: “We are saying to everybody, ‘look, be cautious, if you’re going somewhere make sure you go somewhere that’s well ventilated.'” Ms Keegan said changes to when people can leave isolation based on testing “will relieve some of the pressure” on staffing in health and social care services.
But she added: “Obviously we still have to monitor very closely, because we know we had – in the care sector for example – quite a lot of vacancies already.”
Her advice came as a Labour frontbencher yesterday accused Boris Johnson of “dither” over Covid rules at Christmas.
Jonathan Ashworth, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “Nobody wants to see lockdowns and restrictions over Christmas. Indeed, because of Boris Johnson’s dither, he’s missed that window of opportunity… in the run-up to Christmas.
“On the other hand, we’re all anticipating some form of restrictions post-Christmas, so Johnson is kicking the can down the road if you like.”
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