Only place in Britain where Christmas is going ahead as normal! Isle of Man holds festive switch on

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Residents on the Isle of Man gathered last night for the annual light switch on as the island geared up to be the only place in Britain to celebrate a normal Christmas.

Scores of people congregated in the centre of the capital Douglas for the big switch on at 7pm.

There was an array of festive delights such as music, entertainment and a winter wonderland – forming what officials advertised as ‘the greatest Christmas show’.

It comes as England’s coronavirus outbreak slowed down in the first full week of the second national shutdown.

Meanwhile crossing the Scottish border will be illegal from the end of the week under sweeping new Covid restrictions which critics described as ‘deeply flawed’.

And a 17-day ‘firebreak’ lockdown in Wales ended on November 9 as First Minister Mark Drakeford said the restrictions had succeeded in bringing down Covid rates.

But he warned there will be strict measures brought back in over Christmas if infections rise again. 

Residents on the Isle of Man gathered in their hundreds last night for the annual light switch on

The island is gearing up to be the only place in the British Isles to celebrate a normal Christmas

The island is gearing up to be the only place in the British Isles to celebrate a normal Christmas

The island is gearing up to be the only place in the British Isles to celebrate a normal Christmas

Scores of people congregated in the centre of the capital Douglas for the big switch on at 7pm

Scores of people congregated in the centre of the capital Douglas for the big switch on at 7pm

Scores of people congregated in the centre of the capital Douglas for the big switch on at 7pm

There was an array of festive delights such as music, entertainment and a winter wonderland - forming what officials advertised as 'the greatest Christmas show'

There was an array of festive delights such as music, entertainment and a winter wonderland - forming what officials advertised as 'the greatest Christmas show'

There was an array of festive delights such as music, entertainment and a winter wonderland – forming what officials advertised as ‘the greatest Christmas show’

Dozens of people can be seen huddled around a choir belting out carols as others smile as their pictures are taken

Dozens of people can be seen huddled around a choir belting out carols as others smile as their pictures are taken

Dozens of people can be seen huddled around a choir belting out carols as others smile as their pictures are taken

Pictures show the streets illuminated with red and green lights while a massive 20ft Christmas tree was erected and lit up

Pictures show the streets illuminated with red and green lights while a massive 20ft Christmas tree was erected and lit up

Pictures show the streets illuminated with red and green lights while a massive 20ft Christmas tree was erected and lit up

Douglas Mayor John Joughin pushed the button to switch the lights on to mark the start of the Christmas season

Douglas Mayor John Joughin pushed the button to switch the lights on to mark the start of the Christmas season

Douglas Mayor John Joughin pushed the button to switch the lights on to mark the start of the Christmas season

All major Christmas light events in Britain have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing lockdown (pictured, the Isle of Man)

All major Christmas light events in Britain have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing lockdown (pictured, the Isle of Man)

All major Christmas light events in Britain have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing lockdown (pictured, the Isle of Man)

Pictures show the streets illuminated with red and green lights while a massive 20ft Christmas tree was erected and lit up.

Dozens of people can be seen huddled around a choir belting out carols.

Few cases and no rules: What is the Covid situation on the Isle of Man?

On the Isle of Man there have been 366 confirmed Covid-19 cases since March, with nine active cases at the moment and one person in hospital.

But the government has lifted all restrictions on public life.

Its website says: ‘Any legal requirements for social distancing and all restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings have now been removed.

‘This has been possible due to the commitment of the Manx public.

‘Meeting friends and family is a really important way of helping to look after our mental wellbeing and keeping in touch.

‘When meeting people from outside your household, that is, people you don’t currently live with, you no longer have to keep a 2 metre distance; however it is advised to still practise basic hygiene measures, including regularly washing your hands and coughing or sneezing into your elbow.’

Others sat in ice sculptures, hugged their friends and family and exchanged gifts ahead of the holiday season. 

Douglas Mayor John Joughin pushed the button to switch the lights on to mark the start of the Christmas season.

All major Christmas light events in Britain have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing lockdown.

On the Isle of Man there have been 366 confirmed Covid-19 cases since March, with nine active cases at the moment and one person in hospital.

Restrictions have also been lifted on people’s lives due to the low rate.

The government’s website says: ‘Any legal requirements for social distancing and all restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings have now been removed.

‘This has been possible due to the commitment of the Manx public.

‘Meeting friends and family is a really important way of helping to look after our mental wellbeing and keeping in touch.

‘When meeting people from outside your household, that is, people you don’t currently live with, you no longer have to keep a 2 metre distance; however it is advised to still practise basic hygiene measures, including regularly washing your hands and coughing or sneezing into your elbow.’

The R rate across the UK could be as low as 1, according to official data that raises hopes for a lockdown-free Christmas.

ONS data showed daily infections dropped from 47,700 to 38,900 between November 8 and November 14, a fall of 18 per cent.

The ONS said the rate of new infections ‘appears to have levelled off in the most recent week’.

The promising numbers from the ONS seem to suggest the Tier Three local lockdown rules and the national shutdown are slowing down the spread of the virus.

Experts at the statistical body said: ‘The rate of increase [in positive tests] in England has slowed in recent weeks.’ 

Fundraisers stand in front of the huge tree in the capital Douglas on the Isle of Man last night

Fundraisers stand in front of the huge tree in the capital Douglas on the Isle of Man last night

Fundraisers stand in front of the huge tree in the capital Douglas on the Isle of Man last night

Men, women and child beam as they flock towards the stunning Christmas tree on the island last night

Men, women and child beam as they flock towards the stunning Christmas tree on the island last night

Men, women and child beam as they flock towards the stunning Christmas tree on the island last night

Two girls smile with a toy as they have their photograph taken in Douglas, the capital of the island

Two girls smile with a toy as they have their photograph taken in Douglas, the capital of the island

Two girls smile with a toy as they have their photograph taken in Douglas, the capital of the island

Carol singers stand in formation as they treat residents on the Isle of Man to Christmas songs

Carol singers stand in formation as they treat residents on the Isle of Man to Christmas songs

Carol singers stand in formation as they treat residents on the Isle of Man to Christmas songs 

Children walk along merrily as they take part in the festivities in the capital Douglas last night

Children walk along merrily as they take part in the festivities in the capital Douglas last night

Children walk along merrily as they take part in the festivities in the capital Douglas last night

Two children sit in huge ice chairs during the Christmas celebrations on the Isle of Man last night

Two children sit in huge ice chairs during the Christmas celebrations on the Isle of Man last night

Two children sit in huge ice chairs during the Christmas celebrations on the Isle of Man last night

A child tries to catch something in their mouth as they sit in front of the display on Thursday night

A child tries to catch something in their mouth as they sit in front of the display on Thursday night

A child tries to catch something in their mouth as they sit in front of the display on Thursday night

Meanwhile SAGE said the reproduction ‘R’ rate – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient passes the disease to – had fallen slightly to a maximum of 1.1, from a maximum of 1.2 last week, and could be as low as 1.0 or lower in every region of Britain.

Modelling by the group estimates the R is now between 1.0 and 1.1, meaning on average every 10 Britons with Covid will infect between 10 and 11 others.

They estimated this figure was between 1.0 and 1.2 last week.

The R is one of many indicators scientists use to assess the trajectory of Covid and getting it below 1 means the virus is in retreat. 

The promising data are a major boost for Boris Johnson’s plans to loosen lockdown for five days over Christmas and let families reunite after a tumultuous year that has seen loved ones separated for months on end.

Negotiations are ongoing between the four home nations as they try to hammer out the safest way to let people celebrate the festive period without reversing the effects of lockdown and letting the virus surge again.

But crossing the Scottish border will be illegal from the end of this week under sweeping new Covid restrictions which critics have described as ‘deeply flawed’.

As of 6pm on Friday, entering or leaving Scotland without a reasonable excuse is banned and anyone caught doing so could be slapped with a £60 fine.

People living within Level Three or Level Four lockdown areas –  which includes vast swathes of central Scotland – are also not permitted to leave their area.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been hit with claims the rules cannot be legally put in place by Scottish parliament.

Who's top of the UK coronavirus chart? England has the highest rate of Covid-19 infections, according to official data, followed by Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland

Who's top of the UK coronavirus chart? England has the highest rate of Covid-19 infections, according to official data, followed by Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland

Who’s top of the UK coronavirus chart? England has the highest rate of Covid-19 infections, according to official data, followed by Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland

People living within Level Three or Level Four lockdown areas - which includes vast swathes of central Scotland - are also not permitted to leave their area

People living within Level Three or Level Four lockdown areas - which includes vast swathes of central Scotland - are also not permitted to leave their area

People living within Level Three or Level Four lockdown areas – which includes vast swathes of central Scotland – are also not permitted to leave their area

In Wales a 17-day ‘firebreak’ lockdown ended on November 9 and First Minister Mark Drakeford said the restrictions had succeeded in bringing down coronavirus rates.

The lockdown began on October 23 and was criticised by UK ministers but Mr Drakeford said after 10 consecutive days of decreasing numbers the evidence was ‘now good enough to say that the firebreak period did succeed’.

He told a press conference the measures put in place by the Welsh Government following the firebreak would not be changed in the next two weeks as there was ‘no room for a further relaxation’.

In Wales a 17-day 'firebreak' lockdown ended on November 9 and Mark Drakeford said the restrictions had succeeded in bringing down coronavirus rates (pictured, Cardiff today)

In Wales a 17-day 'firebreak' lockdown ended on November 9 and Mark Drakeford said the restrictions had succeeded in bringing down coronavirus rates (pictured, Cardiff today)

In Wales a 17-day ‘firebreak’ lockdown ended on November 9 and Mark Drakeford said the restrictions had succeeded in bringing down coronavirus rates (pictured, Cardiff today)

Shoppers carry brollies in the centre of Cardiff where shops are open and people are out in numbers taking advantage of buying nonessential items in the run-up to Christmas

Shoppers carry brollies in the centre of Cardiff where shops are open and people are out in numbers taking advantage of buying nonessential items in the run-up to Christmas

Shoppers carry brollies in the centre of Cardiff where shops are open and people are out in numbers taking advantage of buying nonessential items in the run-up to Christmas

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