CHANGING Covid restrictions that differ between English regions, like the North-East, and the UK's nations have been "confusing and complex" says the Liberal Democrat leader, who is now calling for collaboration to protect Christmas. 

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have tackled Covid separately thus far, but Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey has called for four-nation Covid planning for Christmas, warning people face confusion and complexity over potential restrictions.

Leaders of devolved nations have each imposed a 'circuit-breaker' lockdown in a bid to flatten cases but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not followed suit - a "missed opportunity".

But Mr Davey says, ahead of Christmas, there must be a joined-up approach to rules for the likes of gatherings, public transport and the policy of getting students back to families.

Suggesting a four-nation summit, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Well because 2020 has been such a tough year for families across the UK, people losing loved ones, losing their jobs.

"People had been looking forward to Christmas and I think they’re increasingly worried they won’t be able to be with many of their families and friends at Christmas as normal.

“So we want the governments of the four nations to come together, to look ahead, to get ahead of the game and plan measures so that we can maximise the chances of

"Christmas being as near normal as possible and it means they’ve got to take steps now together and if they do then maybe Christmas won’t be cancelled.”

The Northern Echo: Picture: BBC/PAPicture: BBC/PA

English circuit-breaker a "lost opportunity" to protect Christmas

However, unlike its counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the English Government has not imposed a 'circuit-breaker' lockdown, with Mr Johnson ruling it out ahead of half term this week.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Government’s failure to use half term for a short lockdown means they now need to “do something quickly to save Christmas”.

Speaking on Times Radio, Mr Ashworth said the Government have “lost a window of opportunity” for a national lockdown over the holidays, which its scientific advisers and the Labour Party had been requesting for “two weeks or so”.

When asked if he thought families would be able to meet in groups of more than six on Christmas Day, he said: “That’s in the hands of all of us, and in the hands of the decisions it (the Government) makes in the next week or so about what they’re going to do to get on top of this virus.

“I think because they’ve missed this window of opportunity over the half term, I’m worried now that what we’ll see is deeper, more drastic lockdown action over November and December, which sadly probably does put Christmas at risk.

“The Government have got to do something quickly to save Christmas for everybody, because we want people to have a family Christmas, and I think it would be awful if people didn’t have that.”

"Too early" for Christmas plans

Environment Secretary George Eustice said it is “far too early” to set out guidelines about Christmas.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is a rapidly developing situation and we are making judgments all the time about what restrictions might be needed and what’s appropriate to have as restrictions in a particular area.

“It’s far too early to say exactly where things will be by Christmas, but the Prime Minister’s made clear he wants people to be able to have a Christmas that’s as close to possible as normal.”