'Too early to say' how Covid lockdowns could affect Christmas, minister tells LBC

28 October 2020, 08:53 | Updated: 28 October 2020, 09:03

By Fiona Jones

Environment Secretary George Eustice told LBC that it is "too early to say" which coronavirus restrictions could be in place at Christmas as he refused to rule out a second national lockdown.

LBC's Nick Ferrari asked the minister whether he agreed that the police should break up Christmas and Diwali parties this winter as an ever-growing number of areas are moved into Tier Three lockdown, which prevents household mixing.

Nottingham and Warrington are the latest regions to be placed under 'very high' alert, meaning around eight million people face living under the toughest restrictions by the end of the week.

Read more: Staffordshire becomes latest area to be put under Tier 2 restrictions

Mr Eustice told LBC: "We want people to be able to live and have Christmas as close as possible to normal. It's a really important family time.

"The Prime Minister has said he wants us to be able to enjoy Christmas and for families to be able to come together.

"It's too early to say though what restrictions will be in place by Christmas and obviously if we do need to have restrictions in place and prevent families from coming together in large gatherings, if that's necessary to control the virus, then that's what we'll have to do."

Nick pushed the minister to clarify that if it was necessary he would support it.

Mr Eustice responded: "If necessary we would have to put regulations in place, yes, but we want to make sure that people can enjoy Christmas and come together as families still. But it may not be in quite the large gatherings that some people would normally experience."

The Environment Secretary also refused to rule out a national lockdown, telling Nick Ferrari that the Government "don't rule anything out" as it prepares to tackle the pandemic over the winter months.

Mr Eustice told LBC there is a "very high probability of a second wave" and acknowledged there has been a rise in incidents, "particularly in the north west."

Nick put it to the minister that the three tier lockdown system "isn't working", citing Leicester which has been in lockdown "for months", telling Mr Eustice that "clearly these tiers are ending in tiers."

Mr Eustice, while he said he "doesn't think" the answer to the crisis is a full national lockdown, the R rate in England is currently 1.4, "higher than we would like."