Boris Johnson hints at suspending 'rule of six' for a 'normal' Christmas Day

3 October 2020, 12:42 | Updated: 7 June 2023, 08:56

Boris Johnson has hinted he may suspend the 'rule of six' for Christmas Day
Boris Johnson has hinted he may suspend the 'rule of six' for Christmas Day. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Boris Johnson has hinted he might suspend the "rule of six" for Christmas Day so the festive season can be "as normal as possible".

Speaking with ITVMeridian, the Prime Minister was asked about Christmas Day, and whether families of five would be banned from inviting more than one grandparent round for lunch.

Mr Johnson responded by saying: "We're not saying that at all" and added the government would do "everything we can to make sure Christmas for everybody is as normal as possible".

But he admitted there would need to be a set of criteria met - including getting the R value in the UK below one.

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"The answer is that we have to get the R, the reproduction rate of the virus, below 1," he said.

"The best way to get the R below 1… and I totally understand people feel things are inconsistent.

"If we can just follow that guidance… then we can get the R down… I ask people to stick with it if you possibly can."

The R value in the UK currently stands between 1.3 and 1.6.

The R value in the UK currently stands between 1.3 and 1.6
The R value in the UK currently stands between 1.3 and 1.6. Picture: PA

Under current government rules, only six people may gather together, in an effort to stem the rapid spread of Covid-19.

The rule has caused confusion over recent days, with Boris Johnson being forced to make an apology after getting the rules wrong.

Mr Johnson had wrongly suggested that people in the North East could gather in groups larger than six in outdoor settings.

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However, this was wrong as current rules in England state gatherings of more than six people - whether it be indoors or outdoors - are banned.

When asked to clarify the rules in the North East, Mr Johnson said: "On the rule of six, outside the areas such as the North East where extra measures have been brought in, it's six inside, six outside, and in the North East or other areas where extra tight measures have been brought in you should follow the guidance of local authorities.

"But it is six in a home, six in hospitality, but as I understand it, not six outside. That is the situation here."

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First-time offenders who break this rule will be fined £200, which will double with every subsequent offence up to £3,200.

But the PM quickly apologised for the mistake.

He tweeted: "In the North East, new rules mean you cannot meet people from different households in social settings indoors, including in pubs, restaurants and your home. You should also avoid socialising with other households outside.

"This is vital to control the spread of coronavirus and keep everyone safe. If you are in a high risk area, please continue to follow the guidelines from local authorities. "

During PMQs in the Commons on Wednesday, current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the PM of "not knowing his own rules".

Mr Johnson responded by telling Sir Keir to stop "sniping from the sidelines".