‘Don’t Travel If You Don’t Need to’ Over Christmas: Priti Patel

December 17, 2020 Updated: December 17, 2020

Home Secretary Priti Patel on Thursday urged people to minimise travel and meeting-ups during Christmas, echoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s message from the previous day.

“We’re urging people just to be safe basically, and have a smaller and local Christmas. Don’t travel if you don’t need to,” Patel told Sky News, “don’t stay overnight somewhere else where you don’t need to, stay at home effectively with your small support bubble.”

Last month, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland reached an agreement to relax CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions for Christmas over the five-day period from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27.

During the five days, three households can form a “Christmas bubble” to meet in private homes and gardens, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces; travelling across different tiers and nations to meet with your Christmas bubble will also be allowed.

Patels said the guidance is “very clear” on that, but she would urge people to be “very, very conscientious.”

“I do want to emphasize as well … don’t max out for five days, please be conscientious and have a smaller, more local and safer Christmas,” the home secretary said.

She said the government would not advise people to travel, especially from a lower tier area to a higher tier area, or vice versa, because “that would clearly put coronavirus at risk in terms of spreading the virus.”

The government wants people to “exercise the right kind of judgment” as they “have been [doing] brilliant throughout the year,” Patel said.

Patel said she found the CCP virus update that Johnson and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty gave on Wednesday was “very sobering.”

Asked how she would spend her Christmas, the home secretary said she would stay within her “very, very tight and small family bubble” apart from being on-call and meeting with some frontline officers working on the day “to pay credit to them.”

Johnson on Wednesday asked people to “exercises the greatest possible personal responsibility” over the Christmas period.

Looking at the latest data from across the UK with the devolved administrations, Johnson said, they decided that the overall situation was “worse and more challenging” than the governments had hoped when they made the rules for Christmas.

Therefore he asked people not to take full advantage of the relaxation of the restrictions.

“When we say three households can meet on five days, I want to stress these are maximums, not targets to aim for,” Johnson said.

He asked people to minimise the number of people to meet during Christmas, and “if you are visiting others over Christmas, we are asking you—in the five days beforehand, as early as this Friday—to reduce the number of people you are in contact with to the lowest possible.”

More local authorities in England are going into the highest tier of its three-tiered CCP virus alert system from Saturday, with a few moving down the tiers, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced on Thursday.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford announced on Wednesday that entire Wales is moving to Level 4 after Christmas—the highest of its four-level alert system with restrictions “equivalent to the firebreak regulations or lockdown.”

Scotland currently has a five-level alert system in place. Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, and East Lothian are due to move from Level 2 to Level 3 at 6 p.m. on Friday.

In Northern Ireland, shops, restaurants, and places of worship reopen (pdf) on Dec. 11 after a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown, and a limited number of people can gather outdoor. But according to local media reports, Health Minister Robin Swann proposed another six-week lockdown, which is discussed by the executive ministers.