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Coronavirus cases in England have shot up recently, with now upwards of 3,000 per day. The alarming shift in the virus’ course has led the Government to renege on its approach to “normal” life, bringing in new restrictions for England. The measures have taken form as the “rule of six”, which seeks to limit the number of people allowed to mingle.
How long will the rule of six last?
The rule of six reduces the number of people allowed to mingle together from 30 to six.
The new Government restrictions come into effect today in England, with different rules in the devolved administrations.
But they will have come as unwelcome for Brits, many of whom have embraced a return to relative normality.
Ministers have indicated the new rules will have to remain until the tide turns once more on COVID-19.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government would keep them in place for “the foreseeable future”.
But officials have also tentatively pinned hopes they could relinquish some of the stricter measures by Christmas.
Mr Hancock said he hoped the “strong” rule could suppress the disease in time for people to gather for the holidays.
He told BBC Radio 4: “I really hope we can turn this round before Christmas.
“I think that, in a pandemic, Christmas is a long way off.”
He added: “Three months is a long time in a pandemic and I very much hope this strong rule, together with the local action we’ve taken in places like Bolton.
“I very much hope therefore this can work to do that by Christmas.”
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But health experts have poured cold water on the plans, which the Prime Minister also repeated in the Downing Street press conference last week.
Both the Chief Scientific Adviser and Chief Medical Officer have urged caution for the months ahead.
They suggested ministers were too optimistic in expressing hopes to have the country back to how it was before the recent surge by Christmas.
Sir Patrick Vallance said it was “completely wrong to assume this is a slam dunk that can definitely happen.”
Professor Whitty told reporters it was “important not to pin ourselves to a date.”
Doing so, he added, does not follow “the way science moves”.
Scientists and health officials have also said Christmas poses added risks for coronavirus transmission.
People gathering with their families, welcoming guests into their homes and frequenting pubs will give COVID-19 several avenues to spread.
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