'Go ahead with your plans': Boris Johnson confirms no new Covid restrictions for Christmas

21 December 2021, 17:00 | Updated: 21 December 2021, 22:50

Boris Johnson confirmed no more Covid rules before Christmas
Boris Johnson confirmed no more Covid rules before Christmas. Picture: Downing Street/Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson has confirmed Christmas plans will not be scrapped last minute this year – as he said the evidence does not justify "any tougher measures" ahead of December 25.

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The Prime Minister also pledged to monitor the Omicron variant's spread "very closely" and refused to rule out more measures after Saturday.

In a fresh video today, Mr Johnson said the "uncertainty" of several factors, including how severe Omicron is, the hospitalisation rate and the impact of the vaccines and booster jabs, meant he did not think now was the time to impose restrictions.

He said: "There is no doubt that Omicron continues to surge with a speed unlike anything we've seen before.

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"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.

"So 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, and we'll do whatever it takes to protect public health.

"But 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."

He urged everyone to keep following Government guidance, including by wearing a mask indoors when told to, ventilating indoor spaces and taking tests before visiting vulnerable relatives.

The PM added that anyone still needing to arrange a vaccine should "drop everything" and make an appointment now.

His comments follow remarks on Monday evening when he said the data did not suggest new measures, including a lockdown, were needed at this point.

But Mr Johnson was accused after of failing to guarantee certainty for families and businesses, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer saying he failed to give clarity yesterday, adding that he believes the PM is "unfit to lead".

The Government confirmed 7,801 people were in hospital with Covid-19 on December 20, up 1% from last week and the highest amount since November 23.

In the second wave, hospital numbers peaked on January 18 at 39,254. A further 15,363 confirmed Omicron cases were reported on Tuesday, taking the total in the country to 60,508. Another 90,629 Covid cases were also reported.

Scientists and other experts have been warning that steps need to be taken as the fast-spreading Omicron variant rips through the UK.

But the ability to take matters into their own hands will be welcomed by many who feared their festive plans could be scuppered, similar to how millions were plunged into a new 'Tier 4' just days before Christmas last year.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also resisted calls for heavier restrictions before December 25, instead bringing in new measures from Boxing Day.

She had already advised people to limit mixing and take precautions in the run up to Christmas.