James O'Brien: 'Christmas rules relaxation urges people to be even more irresponsible'

25 November 2020, 11:35

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien predicts that the Government's Christmas Covid relaxations will backfire as "nobody is likely to be more careful" after this regulation and instead more likely to extend their previous limits on family gatherings.

This comes after announcements that coronavirus restrictions will be relaxed for five days over Christmas to allow up to three households to mix, a deal which has been made across the UK's four nations.

James told listeners that his original plan was to ignore this hiatus in restrictions and maintain a one household Christmas - however even he started to consider seeing family.

"Because the Government has said it's OK to do that, somewhere inside...I found myself wobbling," he admitted, saying he felt worried about the outcome.

He explained there are three constituencies of people: those who were not going to behave responsibly at Christmas no matter what; people who were going to behave within the parameters of what was allowed; and people who were going to behave even more responsibly than they had to.

"The relaxation of the rules is not going to bring anybody who was planning to behave irresponsibly closer to behaving responsibly, it just gives them license to do what they were going to do anyway without facing sanction or being guilty," James said.

"If they were already to go further away from the rules that were required before the rules changed, this could even mean that people who were already planning on three families getting together when they were only allowed one...they might think why don't we have five.

"If you were already prepared to breach the regulations before the regulations relaxed, what possible motivation would there be for you to behave more responsibly?"

James questioned whether this Christmas relaxation will backfire as people are not going to be less careful than they would have been if things had stayed the same.