U.K. Officials Re-Evaluate Plan to Allow Christmas Socializing

British authorities are to hold talks on Christmas coronavirus rules after a surge in infections fueled demands from medical experts to stop households mixing over the holiday.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove will discuss the issue with his counterparts from the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland later on Tuesday, a person familiar with the matter said.

The talks suggest officials could revise their decision to allow as many as three households to gather together for five days over Christmas, after two leading medical journals demanded the government scrap the plan.

In a rare joint editorial Tuesday, the British Medical Journal and the Health Service Journal said the government’s relaxation of social distancing rules over the holiday period will increase coronavirus infections and risk putting further strain on hospitals.

Johnson’s spokesman Jamie Davies told reporters on Tuesday that the government wants to give families the chance to meet up over Christmas, but refused to rule out tightening the regulations.

Asked if ministers are considering cutting Christmas bubbles to two households or reducing the period to three days, Davies said that the guidance for the period had been set out “but we obviously keep all advice under review.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed talks will take place with the other U.K. administrations on Tuesday. “We are considering whether any additional precautions are necessary in light of what we know so far — including whether there should be any change over the Christmas period because of this or the wider context,” she said, according to a tweet from her Scottish National Party.

— With assistance by Alastair Reed

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