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Britons believe Christmas gatherings should be sacrificed this year in the battle against coronavirus, as a new poll for Sky News reveals public support for a toughening of restrictions.

A majority of the public say that existing limits on the size of groups – as well as localised restrictions which ban visits to other households – should stay in place over the Christmas period.

Christmas has been made a key yardstick for the prime minister who promised over the summer it would mark a “significant return to normality”.

More recently, after the start of the second wave, he declared he wants to save and protect Christmas even though restrictions could still be in place by next spring.

Yet a majority of the public do not agree that Christmas is a priority. A YouGov poll for Sky News found 59% want the current rules to stay in place through the festive period, compared to 30% who say they should be relaxed.

The findings also show the public do not think the prime minister will be successful in relaxing measures by Christmas, with 75% of people thinking the restrictions will still be in place.

Britons take a hardline attitude to restrictions, making clear that they would support tougher measures if coronavirus worsens.

Some 58% support closing pubs and restaurants if cases rise, 52% would ban visits to other people’s houses where that is still possible, and 50% would support the closure of non-essential shops and stores.

Even 46% would support a return to the lockdown conditions in place in March, with a ban on people leaving their homes except for essential shopping, work and exercise, with 38% opposing this.

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