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UK Covid stay: minister casts doubt on knowledge of holding huge Christmas events | Politics


Good morning. It’s the time of yr when many people are planning, trying ahead to (or dreading) Christmas events. However must you go forward with them? If you’re seeking to the federal government for clear steerage, it’s even foggier this morning than it has been.

On Tuesday Boris Johnson – as soon as dubbed a Merrie England Tory, and clearly on the hedonistic finish of the federal government spectrum – mentioned that events ought to go forward. “We don’t need individuals to cancel such occasions,” he mentioned at his press convention on Tuesday.

Final evening Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, supplied a nuanced different. Christmas ought to go forward, she informed ITV’s Peston programme, however she mentioned it was greatest to keep away from “snogging below the mistletoe”. Requested for clarification on the snogging level, she mentioned: “Effectively, not with individuals you don’t already know!”

However this morning George Freeman supplied an alternate take. Freeman is minister for science on the enterprise division, and so maybe he’s extra on the evidence-based finish of the federal government spectrum (or killjoy finish, as they might put it within the Covid Restoration Group). He informed the At this time programme that, whereas small corporations would possibly wish to go forward with a Christmas bash, larger corporations could choose to rethink. He mentioned:


Particular person companies, in the long run, need to make judgments on what is suitable internally. It barely depends upon the character of the enterprise. For a lot of small companies, 4 or 5 workers, who’re working collectively on daily basis anyway, gathering to have a drink isn’t a giant step up in danger.

However some corporations would possibly usually carry a whole bunch of individuals in from around the globe to a giant celebration, and so they could resolve, this yr, is that wise given the pandemic and given the place we’re? In the long run, I believe enterprise individuals know find out how to make these selections.

However Freeman additionally mentioned that his personal parliamentary staff – which isn’t a hundreds-strong outfit – can be having its do over Zoom. He informed LBC:


I can inform you that my parliamentary staff and I usually have a Christmas celebration. We’ve determined this yr that it’s most likely wise to do it by Zoom and anticipate the spring. It received’t be the very best celebration on the planet.

We’ll be getting a foyer briefing later, and it will likely be fascinating to see see whether or not Freeman will get the Jenny Harries therapy over what he’s mentioned.

If you’re confused, you must most likely simply make your individual determination, which appears to be what the federal government thinks individuals ought to do anyway. Alternatively, you might attempt the strategy that No 10 appears have adopted – which is to carry a celebration, however fake you haven’t.

Right here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The ONS publishes a report on lengthy Covid.

10am: George Eustice, the surroundings secretary, provides a speech to the Nation Land & Enterprise Affiliation convention. At 11.15am he holds a press convention.

After 10.30am: Jacob Rees-Mogg, chief of the Commons, solutions questions within the Commons about subsequent week’s enterprise.

11.30am: Downing Road holds a foyer briefing.

After 11.30am: Chris Bryant, chair of the Commons requirements committee, makes a press release within the Commons about his committee’s new report proposing modifications to the code of conduct for MPs.

2pm: The UK Well being Safety Company publishes its weekly Covid surveillance report.

And sooner or later as we speak Boris Johnson will get his booster vaccine. And Keir Starmer is visiting an offshore platform within the North Sea.

I will probably be protecting UK Covid developments right here, in addition to non-Covid politics, however for international Covid developments, do learn our international stay weblog.

I attempt to monitor the feedback under the road (BTL) however it’s inconceivable to learn all of them. When you have a direct query, do embody “Andrew” in it someplace and I’m extra prone to discover it. I do attempt to reply questions, and if they’re of common curiosity, I’ll put up the query and reply above the road (ATL), though I can’t promise to do that for everybody.

If you wish to appeal to my consideration shortly, it’s most likely higher to make use of Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you may electronic mail me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com





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