Call for Covid restrictions to be eased just for Christmas Day amid warnings of ‘digital’ festivities

Call for Covid restrictions to be eased just for Christmas Day amid warnings of 'digital' festivities

The Bishop of Paisley has called for an easing of coronavirus restrictions on Christmas Day.

It comes after national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch said large family gatherings were unlikely to be held this year because of the prevalence of coronavirus in Scotland.

John Keenan, who also serves as the vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said strict restrictions on Christmas gatherings run “the risk of destroying all hope”.

While he conceded that Prof Leitch was trying to manage expectations, Mr Keenan wrote in the Sunday Times: “No one wants a digital Christmas.

“Squashing false expectations is one thing, but no one wants to dampen people’s hopes.”

The bishop asked if there could be a 24-hour “circuit-breaker” put in place on December 25, comparing it with the ceasefire on the Western Front during the First World War.

He said: “Perhaps we should consider a Christmas ‘circuit-breaker’. A 24-hour lifting of restrictions on gatherings and celebrations, a break in the war on Covid, just like the pause in the First World War on the Western Front in 1914, when the British and German troops laid down their guns and met in no man’s land to celebrate Christmas.”

He added: “Couldn’t we allow for one day of normality in the midst of our relentless war against the virus?

“Think of the hope and happiness that would give. A moment of joy in the midst of so much despair.

The bishop also said that “great care” would have to be taken to protect the vulnerable and the elderly, but raised the risk of “emptiness, loneliness and hopelessness at what should be the happiest time of year”.

He continued: “The effects of a depressed and isolated Christmas could be devastating for many, leaving an emotional and social legacy that no vaccine could cure.

“Flattening the curve of infection rates has been a laudable goal of government policy this year. Rather than flatten the curve of hope, let’s lift our spirits with the prospect of a merry Christmas and happy new year.”

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