While Boris Johnson defied calls to scrap the relaxed COVID Christmas rules, a poll has found that a quarter of Brits plan to break them.
On Wednesday, the prime minister advised people to minimise contacts before seeing loved ones at Christmas, and to avoid travelling from high prevalence areas to ones that are not so badly affected.
However, one in four people said they were prepared to break the rules “slightly” over the festive period, according to The Times.
In England, the regulations allow for a five-day “Christmas window” from 23 to 27 December, when people can form exclusive bubbles of up to three households across the UK.
But the survey found that 22% think it would be acceptable to form a bubble with four households rather than three, while 32% think it would be acceptable to remain in a Christmas bubble for an extra day.
A separate snap YouGov survey taken this week found that 57% of Brits did not want the rules to be relaxed for Christmas, while nearly a third (31%) said they should go ahead as planned.
— YouGov (@YouGov) December 15, 2020
Home secretary Priti Patel said on Thursday morning she would inform police if she saw people breaching coronavirus rules over Christmas, but stressed that officers would focus on “egregious breaches” of the law.
She said that “nothing will change” over Christmas in terms of the police’s role in enforcing the law.
Asked if she would advise the public to report breaches over the festive period, the home secretary told BBC Breakfast: “Any individual that saw any laws being broken would take that upon themselves.
“If I saw somebody flouting coronavirus regulations and the laws, of course I would look to inform the police about that.
“The public are part of this… we do see the public and the police working together.”
Watch: Priti Patel urges people to have small Christmas celebrations
Patel denied that police would lessen their enforcement of coronavirus laws over Christmas.
“Nothing will change in terms of enforcement of coronavirus laws and regulations,” she said.
She told Sky News: “Their role is to enforce against the egregious breaches, the raves, the house parties, anything basically that is in breach of the rules that would effectively lead to the spread of the virus.”
While refusing to “cancel Christmas”, the prime minister stressed that the three bubbles is the maximum permitted amount of mixing and has strongly urged people to have a low-key Christmas by scaling-back travel plans and social contact.
His comments came after the UK-wide plans for the relaxations diverged when Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford announced that Wales would limit mixing to just two households before a fresh lockdown is imposed.
In Scotland, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said her “strong recommendation” was for people to stay within their own household and own home.
Meanwhile Northern Ireland’s first minister Arlene Foster said the public must take “all and every precaution” at Christmas and proposals for further restrictions will be brought forward on Thursday.
Watch: The COVID dos and don’ts of Christmas this year