Boris Johnson tonight declared that Christmas can definitely go ahead ‘cautiously’ – but England’s top scientists suggested restrictions may still be needed afterwards to cope with further strain on the NHS.
Amid rising anger that millions of people are being left in limbo, the PM completely ruled out any further curbs being introduced before December 25.
But he gave notice that the government is still monitoring the ‘finely balanced’ situation with Omicron ‘very carefully’ and is ‘ready to take action’ afterwards if necessary.
The short-term clarity came after Nicola Sturgeon dramatically cancelled large-scale New Year celebrations in Scotland, reintroducing limits on households mixing, table service in hospitality and crowds at major events.
Meanwhile, another 90,629 Covid cases were recorded in 24 hours across the UK, along with 172 deaths. A further 15,363 infections with the Omicron variant have been confirmed, bringing the total to 60,508 – although the pace of spread looks potentially slower than initially feared.
It came as medical and science chiefs Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance tonight briefed MPs on the state of play with Omicron, in what many saw as an effort to ‘roll the pitch’ for restrictions.
Reports following the meeting suggested the pair had warned of ‘huge staff shortages’ in the NHS over the coming days as a result of the spread of the virus.
Read More: Christmas CAN go ahead… but be careful! Boris FINALLY rules out new Covid curbs before Dec 25 as infections stay flat for fifth day in a row but Whitty and Vallance warn MPs restrictions WILL still be needed afterwards as NHS struggles