Raab: We are trying to move ‘heaven and earth’ to avoid fresh Xmas curbs

20 December 2021, 08:18 | Updated: 20 December 2021, 11:44

By Megan Hinton

The Deputy Prime Minister has said the Government is "trying to move heaven and earth" to avoid imposing further restrictions before Christmas.

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Speaking to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast today, Dominic Raab said restrictions are "dependent on data" explaining that the Government do not yet know "how severe" Omicron is.

When asked how close the UK is to having more restrictions implemented before Christmas, Mr Raab said: "We are trying to move heaven and earth to avoid that but it is dependant on the data coming through.

"What we know is that Omicron is spreading and doubling something like every one two or three days."

Whilst data on its transmissibility is evident, the Secretary of State for Justice said data is not yet "clear" on how severe the new strain of Coronavirus is.

He said the Government is monitoring data by the hour and will reach a decision based on "hard data" rather than "advice".

It comes as many cabinet ministers are said to be pushing back against scientific advice calling for additional restrictions to be imposed this side of Christmas.

Read more: Ministers push back against Christmas Covid curbs suggested by scientists

Read more: Govt wants ex-teachers to return to classrooms and solve Omicron staff shortages

Read more: 'Catastrophic' NHS staff shortages due to Omicron as variant spreads through London

Several ministers have reportedly pushed back against calls from scientific advisers for new measures to tackle the surge in cases of the Omicron variant before Christmas.

According to reports, up to one third of Boris Johnson's Cabinet are against the introduction of further restrictions during the festive period, including the Prime Minister himself.

But concerns are growing around staff shortages in the NHS due to Omicron infections with "catastrophic" figures suggesting that one in three NHS staff in London could be off work by New Year's Eve.

Today Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi also called on ex-teachers to sign up to help with Covid staff shortages in schools in the new year.

During the interview, Mr Raab also condemned "irresponsible" anti-vaxxers for block-booking vaccine appointments and not turning up.

He said: "Getting vaccinated is the surest way to improve our resilience and our protection from this terrible virus.

"If you chose not to do so then I suppose that is your choice, although I would encourage everyone to have it, you certainly should not get in the way of others taking up those vital slots."