The Prime Minister has confirmed that the government won’t introduce more Covid-19 restrictions before Christmas, as Omicron variant cases continue to rise.
Last night, the prime minister confirmed that he will not introduce any further Covid-19 restrictions in England ahead of Christmas Day.
In a video posted by Downing Street on social media, Boris Johnson confirmed that “people can go ahead with their Christmas plans” but urged caution, suggesting that people should take at-home lateral flow tests before meeting elderly relatives.
“The situation remains extremely difficult, but I also recognise that people have been waiting to hear about whether their Christmas plans, your Christmas plans, are going to be affected,” Johnson said in the video.
Can Christmas 2021 go ahead?
“What I can say tonight is that naturally we can’t rule out any further measures after Christmas, and we’re going to keep a constant eye on the data – we will do whatever it takes to protect public health,” he continued.
“But, in view of the continuing uncertainty about several things – the severity of Omicron, uncertainty about the hospitalisation rates or the impact of the vaccine rollout and the boosters – we don’t think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas.”
The announcement has been welcomed by some, after the government was accused of “dithering” and leaving millions in painful limbo over whether their plans would be cancelled.
However, the prime minister did warn that the Covid-19 situation remains “finely balanced” ahead of the new year, as Omicron variant cases continue to surge.
How fast is the Omicron variant spreading in the UK?
Health minister Gillian Keegan confirmed to Sky News that 129 people are now confirmed to be in hospital with the new strain, and 14 people are now known to have died from Omicron.
The UK Health and Security Agency said on Tuesday that it had identified 15,363 new cases, taking the UK’s official Omicron total to over 60,508. However, the true figure is thought to be multiples higher – currently around the 90,000 mark.
Furthermore, the government also announced that people infected with Covid in England can stop self-isolating up to three days early, ending quarantine after seven days instead of 10 by providing negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven. Health Secretary Sajid Javid explained that it would “minimise disruption caused by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.”
However, what restrictions will be in place, including a rumoured two week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, and whether New Year’s Eve plans will go ahead remains to be seen as ministers monitor the data “hour by hour”.