Boris Johnson hints at suspension of ‘rule of six’ to allow for ‘normal’ Christmas Day

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Boris Johnson insisted the key to the overall relaxation of coronavirus restrictions is ensuring the R rate – the approximate number of people someone with COVID-19 can infect – is lowered. The Prime Minister urged Britons to follow the guidelines to help contain the spread of the virus and keep new cases down. In an interview with ITV Meridian, Mr Johnson was asked about the impact the pandemic may have on Christmas Day and whether his rule of six will prevent families from coming together to celebrate.

The Prime Minister said: “We’re not saying that at all.”

Mr Johnson insisted the Government will be doing “everything we can to make sure Christmas for everybody is as normal as possible”.

He continued: “The answer is that we have to get the R, the reproduction rate of the virus, below 1.

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

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“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.”

Estimates currently have the R rate between 1.3 and 1.6

Hints about the suspension of the rule of six were however undercut after the latest infection data reported over 12,000 new COVID-19 case had been recorded between Friday and Saturday.

The Government insisted the sudden increase was the result of a glitch in the reporting system that affected the numbers through the past week.

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Attempts to contain the virus have resulted in a series of localised lockdown across the northeast and northwest of England as well as Scotland and Wales.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer reacted to the spike accusing the Government of having “lost control” of the pandemic.

Speaking to The Observer, Sir Keir said: “I think they’ve lost control of the virus.

“There isn’t a strategy. There’s a vacuum there.

“And that’s because there’s division in the Cabinet as to which strategy they should be following.”

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On Friday, Northumbria University confirmed 770 students had been forced to start self-isolating after the discovery of a COVID-19 cluster in the halls.

Eton also confirmed a whole year group had to quarantine after several students and members of staff tested positive to the coronavirus.

And Tower Hamlets became the first London borough to see the introduction of a ban on household mixing due to the increasing number of new infections recorded in the area over the past week.

Alarming Government data suggests 143 new infections were recorded in the seven days up to September 28, equating to 44 cases per 100,000 people.

This marked a significant increase compared with the previous week, when the figure was 38.5 cases per 100,000.

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