Boris Johnson delivers update on Christmas period restrictions
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Boris Johnson, 57, gave Brits the go-ahead to come together for their festive celebrations after it was speculated he could introduce a Christmas clampdown to restrict the spread of COVID-19. However, the Prime Minister, who is facing growing opposition from many Tory MPs opposed to Covid regulations, refused to rule out introducing more restrictions in the future.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, 41, also stood behind Mr Johnson as he said fresh measures may need to be introduced while the “situation [is] under constant review”.
The announcement comes shortly after the Prime Minister brought together his Cabinet on Monday to discuss how England should respond to the Omicron variant.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, 46, is said to be among at least three Cabinet Ministers who are calling for a thorough economic impact assessment before enforcing any more measures.
Speaking about the Government’s decision, Mr Johnson said: “We don’t think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas.
“Naturally, we can’t rule out any further measures after Christmas – and we’re going to keep a constant eye on the data and we’ll do whatever it takes to protect public health.”
The Telegraph claims the earliest date for Mr Johnson to recall Parliament and debate future restrictions would be December 28 or 29.
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The Prime Minister added: “There is no doubt that Omicron continues to surge with a speed unlike anything we’ve seen before.
“The situation remains extremely difficult, but I also recognise that people have been waiting to hear whether their Christmas plans are going to be affected.
“In view of the continuing uncertainty about several things – the severity of omicron, uncertainty about the hospitalisation rate or the impact of the vaccine rollout or the boosters, we don’t think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas.
“We continue to monitor omicron very closely, and if the situation deteriorates we will be ready to take action if needed.
“What this means is that people can go ahead with their Christmas plans – but the situation remains finely balanced and I would urge everyone to exercise caution, to keep protecting yourselves and your loved ones, especially the vulnerable.
“And remember to keep following the guidance – wear a mask indoors when required to do so, keep fresh air circulating and take a test before you visit elderly or vulnerable relatives.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, 51, has put in place new measures from Boxing Day, which will include cancelling traditional Hogmanay celebrations.
Restrictions north of the border will also see an effective ban on live sports events, which includes a key Christmas clash in the Scottish Premier League between title-holders Rangers and stragglers St Mirren.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, 67, has recalled the Welsh Parliament on Wednesday to consider introducing additional measures after Christmas.
Cardiff Bay had already imposed stadium bans for sporting fixtures, which has ensured the lucrative festive fixtures between Cardiff and the Scarlets will be played behind closed doors.
The UK recorded 90,629 coronavirus cases yesterday, making Tuesday the fifth consecutive day where cases have exceeded 80,000.
The latest available update also indicated some 7,801 Covid patients are in hospital and 859 of those are on ventilation beds.
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However, uptake of the booster vaccine has continued to soar.
The UK administered a total of 988,710 doses on Monday, just short of the Government’s million-a-day target.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid, 52, added another Christmas boost to Brits when he announced the self-isolation period would be cut from 10 days to just 7 from today.
The move is intended to help combat staff shortages and give people earlier festive freedom.
But those who test positive will need to record two successive negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven.
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