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UK leaders must work together to keep families safe at Christmas

November 1, 2020 4:02 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Families across the UK have had an extremely difficult year being separated from their loved ones. They deserve a Christmas that is as normal as possible.

So far, Boris Johnson's government has been badly prepared and slow to act at every stage throughout the Covid-19 crisis. That can't happen again, especially for Christmas.

Families across the UK have had an extremely difficult year being separated from their loved ones.

We need a four nations summit to agree on a set of common guidelines for Christmas that works for families across the UK. Ministers across Britain need to start work on it now.

That's why Scottish Leader Willie Rennie, Welsh Leader Jane Dodds and I have joined with the Alliance Party in writing a joint letter to the four governments of the UK calling for a united approach to keeping family gatherings safe during the festive season.

With many families split across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, conflicting measures introduced by the respective governments of the UK nations could cause further confusion and complications.

We are calling for a united approach to keeping family gatherings safe during the festive season.

This year has already seen Muslim communities across the country miss out on reuniting families for Eid al-Adha, with some communities impacted because of last-minute lockdown rules. After months apart, it was devastating news and we must learn from it.

We must accept the inevitability that people are going to travel to be with their loved ones during the festive time of year. The interlinked nature of life in the United Kingdom means no one government can devise this guidance in isolation.

It therefore falls on the governments of the UK to work across together to explore workable solutions that can enable travel to happen safely.

To manage the implications for public health, we are urging them to work cross-party to cooperate on:

  • Students' return from university
  • Agreeing on uniform guidance on the number of people who can gather
  • Exploring how best to expand travel options to allow social distancing

This way, families up and down the UK can plan for a Christmas that is as normal as possible. It's what they deserve.