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Boris Johnson sticking with relaxed Covid-19 rules for Christmas despite surge in infections

The UK is sticking with relaxing its Covid rules over Christmas, despite increasing pressure to tighten them amid a surge in coronavirus infections.

In an unscheduled speech from Downing Street, Boris Johnson said the Christmas Covid laws, which permit three households to mix over five days will not change yet urged people to keep any celebration "small and local".

All four nations agreed unanimously, despite Wales and Scotland announcing different guidance over the festive period.

"Having looked at the latest data with our colleagues in the devolved administrations ... the overall situation is more challenging than when we first set the rules," the UK Prime Minister said.

He urged the public to use extreme caution but added cancelling Christmas would be inhumane due to its immense emotional, spiritual importance.

"It would not be right, we think, to criminalise people who have made plans and simply want to spend time with their loved ones," he said.

"We are collectively across the UK, governments at every level, asking you to think hard and in detail about the days ahead and whether you can do more to protect yourself and others."

The confirmed relaxation of the rules comes as the UK recorded another 18,450 Covid-19 cases and 506 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the UK death toll to 64,908.