URGENT talks will be held this evening over the planned relaxation of coronavirus rules at Christmas.

Cabinet Office minster Michael Gove will meet with the leaders of the devolved administrations to discuss the nationwide agreement, as calls mount to scrap the Christmas bubbles.

The planned five-day “Christmas window” would allow three households to mingle between December 23-27, but a rare joint editorial by the British Medical Journal and Health Service Journal called for the "rash" decision to be scrapped.

However, Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford described the four nations approach to the festive period as a “hard-won agreement” and said he will “not lightly put it aside”.

The move comes as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer demanded an urgent review into the easing of rules after the leading medical journals warned that a lessening of restrictions would “cost many lives”.

Mr Drakeford told the Welsh Parliament: “I have a meeting later today with the First Minister of Scotland, the First and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland and Michael Gove as the minister in charge of the Cabinet Office, no doubt this issue will be discussed.

“The choice is a grim one, isn’t it.

“I think the choice is an incredibly difficult one. At the moment we have a four-nation agreement. I will discuss that later today, we will look at the figures again together.”

Labour leader Sir Keir urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to call an emergency meeting of the Government’s top level Cobra committee within 24 hours to assess the situation.

Downing Street said that advice to the public was being kept “under constant review”.

The joint editorial warning, authored by HSJ editor Alastair McLellan and BMJ editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee said: “When Government devised the current plans to allow household mixing over Christmas it had assumed the Covid-19 demand on the NHS would be decreasing.

“But it is not, it is rising, and the emergence of a new strain of the virus has introduced further potential jeopardy.

“Members of the public can and should mitigate the impact of the third wave by being as careful as possible over the next few months. But many will see the lifting of restrictions over Christmas as permission to drop their guard.

“The Government was too slow to introduce restrictions in the spring and again in the autumn.

“It should now reverse its rash decision to allow household mixing and instead extend the tiers over the five-day Christmas period in order to bring numbers down in the advance of a likely third wave.”

In response to suggestions that the Christmas arrangements could be restricted to three days or two households, Downing Street again said the measures were being kept under “constant review”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We have set out the guidance for the Christmas bubbling arrangements.

“But… we obviously keep all advice under constant review.”

The relaxation of regulations looms as the Government is putting London, much of Essex and part of Hertfordshire under the strictest Tier 3 restrictions from midnight tonight.

Scientists have warned that the easing of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas will cause a spike in infections.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to be “extremely careful” about who they mix with in the run-up to Christmas if they are planning to see elderly relatives over the festive period.