Boris Johnson to decide on Christmas Covid restrictions within 10 days

6 December 2021, 15:42

Boris Johnson will update MPs on whether Covid restrictions are needed over Christmas within 10 days
Boris Johnson will update MPs on whether Covid restrictions are needed over Christmas within 10 days. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson will tell MPs if Covid restrictions will be needed for Christmas within 10 days.

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The PM plans to wait for more data on the Omicron variant, having introduced new measures to try and reduce its threat while scientists race to learn more about it.

There have been fears that the emergence of Omicron could threaten festivities, but Boris Johnson has insisted this year's celebrations will be better than 2020's, when millions had their plans ruined by new measures.

Mr Johnson's spokesman said on Monday: "We are confident we will have more data than we currently do and we will be able to update Parliament during [next] week."

The Commons will break for its Christmas recess after Thursday next week - meaning the update should be provided before the end of that day.

Despite controversy about alleged festivities at Downing Street last year, No10 intends to have a Christmas do.

"We haven't confirmed any dates at the moment," the spokesman said.

"I think there is an intention to have a Christmas party this year."

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Read more: Met considering complaints from Labour MPs over PM's Christmas party accusations

That comes as companies weigh up whether it is safe to hold Christmas parties as Omicron spreads, despite repeated insistence from ministers that plans don't need to be scrapped.

Last week, Mr Johnson moved quickly to insist "we're not going to change" Covid guidance after Dr Jenny Harries, the head of the UK Health Security Agency, suggested people should try and reduce their socialising.

Read more: New Covid restrictions in Ireland include six person limit in bars and restaurants

The Government has maintained it could use so-called Plan B measures as a back up, which could see work-from-home guidance and even, as a last resort, lockdowns get imposed.

But ministers have insisted that does not need to be considered as things stand.

Experts are trying to carry out more research on Omicron, which has panicked scientists who raised questions about whether it could evade some of the protection afforded by vaccines and transmit more easily.

In response, people in England were told to wear face masks in the shops and on public transport, while arrivals to the UK have to take a PCR test shortly after arriving and isolate until it comes back negative.

Anybody who comes into contact with an Omicron case must isolate regardless of age or vaccine status.

From 4am on 7 December, people arriving in the UK will also have to provide proof of a pre-departure test.