Sturgeon adviser breaks down Covid rules Boris Johnson could implement across England

Scotland: Jason Leitch explains calls to reduce socialising

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Jason Leitch said a “novel idea” has been introduced in Scotland which sees responsibility being shared between the Government and the public about the newly advised three-household policy that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recommended should be adopted to keep everybody safe during the Christmas festivities. The National Clinical Director of the Scottish Government said that finding common ground between people and the Government is the ideal solution so planned Christmas parties can still go ahead but in safer circumstances. A similar strategy could be in the pipeline for England as Prime Minister Boris Johnson amid reports he is considering further strategies to avoid a new surge of the pandemic.

Jason Leitch told BBC Newscast: “We’ve just decided that the simplest thing to do is to give some responsibility to the public, and some responsibility to the government.

“It’s a novel idea and what we’ve suggested is three households is really what you should do if you have to socialise.

“But we’re also suggesting that you reduce your socialising overall, now that’s really difficult.

Mr Leitch sympathised with people working in hospitality and retail, acknowledging that they are the ones that are the worst affected by the fresh measures.

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He said: “I don’t own a pub or a hospitality business, and they are struggling.

“And this is a really, really difficult period for them.

“We’ve also done other things in retail, working from home rules, re-emphasising vaccination, of course, and home testing.

“All that other kind of A la carte menu that people have got to do.”

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With Omicron cases having dramatically exploded to over 5,000 cases in the space of two weeks, the British PM could emulate neighbouring Scotland and decide that reducing the capacity of people celebrating Christmas together is the best way to ward off the new disease.

Mr Leitch stressed that it is only in people’s interest to take the advice on board and limit socialising so as to prevent the new Omicron disease and other COVID-19 variants from affecting them and their surroundings and exacerbating the spread of the virus.

And people in Scotland are being dissuaded from going to venues like pubs, theatres, and restaurants because of the risks attached to the high number of people coming into close contact.

BBC Political Editor Laura Kuennsberg on Wednesday suggested there is now “a lot of talk” about England following in Scotland’s footsteps with more stringent guidance.

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Ms Kuenssberg said: “There is a lot of chatter in Westminster with all of the evidence of this surge of Omicron about what next.

“[Tuesday] was extraordinary, the scale of the [rebellion], the misjudgement in No10 about the level of resistance and all parts of the Tory party not on the payroll coming together against the Prime Minister.

“But when it comes to what next, I don’t think this automatically means we can assume Boris Johnson would never be able to get anything else through the House of Commons to try to restrict the pandemic.

“When it comes to this vote, the evidence for vaccine passports last night was mixed – the Labour Party was going to back it anyway.

“And more pertinent, the Government could take the kind of stance that Nicola Sturgeon has and set out introducing guidance for people’s behaviour rather than having to try to change the law which, politically, of course, would be more of a challenge.”

But Mr Johnson, like his Scottish counterpart Nicola Sturgeon, is understood to neither cancel any Christmas celebrations nor impose a new lockdown.

Labour Leader Keir Starmer blasted Mr Johnson for being “too weak” to spearhead the UK through the Omicron crisis.

He ranted about Mr Johnson’s failure to hold his nerve in crucial moments, accusing him of not being strong enough to lead the UK

He said: “We can’t go on with a prime minister who’s too weak to lead.

“So will the prime minister take time this Christmas to look in the mirror and ask himself whether he has the trust and authority to lead this country?”

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