PM says 'conversation' must be had about mandatory vaccines in UK

8 December 2021, 23:59 | Updated: 9 December 2021, 00:01

Boris Johnson has hinted mandatory vaccines could eventually be introduced in the UK
Boris Johnson has hinted mandatory vaccines could eventually be introduced in the UK. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said there is a "conversation" to be had about mandatory coronavirus vaccinations in the UK, saying the Government cannot keep restrictions going "indefinitely" because some people do not want to get vaccinated.

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When asked by a member of the public whether the Government was considering introducing mandatory vaccines, as other European countries have, Mr Johnson said: "I said right at the beginning of this pandemic that... I didn't want us to have a society and a culture where we force people to get vaccinated, I don't think that's ever been the way we do things in this country."

But he then said: "I think that there is going to come a point - if we can show that the vaccines are capable of holding the Omicron, and that's the key thing that I think we need to test - but I do think that we're going to have to have a conversation about ways in which we deal with this pandemic."

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He said: "We don't believe we can keep going indefinitely with non-pharmaceutical interventions [NPIs] - I mean restrictions on people's way of life - just because a substantial proportion of the population still sadly has not got vaccinated.

"I think we are going to need to have a national conversation about the way forward and the other things that we can do to protect those who are hard to reach, who haven't got vaccinated for one reason or another... but that is a stage that I think we will come to if and when we establish, as I hope that we will, that the booster is effective against Omicron."

He added: "It's at that moment I think we will have to talk seriously about moving on from thinking about further NPIs and thinking about other ways in which we protect people."

It comes as the Prime Minister announced the UK was moving to Plan B of the Government's Autumn and Winter Plan for coronavirus.

People in England have been asked to work from home from Monday, and the face mask mandate is being extended to most indoor spaces from Friday.

As well as this, some venues and events will need attendees to show proof of Covid vaccination, or proof of a recent negative test.

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Speaking in the now-infamous Downing Street briefing room, in the wake of the fury at a leaked video of No10 staff joking about a Christmas party last year, Mr Johnson said he wanted to "buy ourselves the time to get yet more boosters into arms".

It follows a turbulent day for Mr Johnson, who has continued to say he is assured guidance was followed in December last year, but he added that an investigation will take place.

He was also accused of attempting a "diversionary" tactic by announcing the Plan B contingency measures by one of his own MPs, which he rejected.