Boris Johnson is running out of time if he wants to implement new Covid rules before the end of the year (Picture: Rex / Getty / EPA)
Data which showed the Omicron variant may be milder has made more restrictions on New Year’s Eve ‘increasingly unlikely’, according to reports.
Boris Johnson is running out of time to impose legal measures on the population ahead of end-of-year celebrations, but will likely advise increased caution due to soaring case numbers.
The PM has used his Christmas message to tell people to get the ‘wonderful’ gift of a booster jab as part of the ‘neighbourly’ spirit of the season.
His decision not to cancel festive celebrations for the second year was backed up yesterday by analysis from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) which suggested that people are between 50% and 70% less likely to be admitted to hospital with Omicron compared to past variants.
A package of restrictions ‘doesn’t look as likely as it was’, according to Downing Street insiders (Picture: Downing Street)
More curbs on socialising had been expected after Christmas due to the rapid spread of Omicron but Mr Johnson has vowed to recall Parliament to vote on any measures he deems necessary.
He needs to give two days notice in order to do this and, with Christmas holidays beginning, he is running out of time.
A Cabinet source told the Daily Mail that ‘with every day that goes by, it becomes less likely’ that Parliament will be recalled before New Year’s Eve, meaning the celebration could be free from restrictions.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all taken addition measures including closing high risk venues like night clubs.
No new restrictions will be in place for Christmas but measures could still be needed soon (Picture: EPA)
But Mr Johnson, who potentially faces another large backbench rebellion if he does try to introduce new rules, may stop short of doing the same, The Telegraph reported.
A Downing Street insider told the paper that a package of restrictions ‘doesn’t look as likely as it was’ although nothing is being ruled out.
Another said it is the ‘working assumption’ in Whitehall that the Prime Minister will stop short of levying new legal curbs on socialising.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has warned that Omicron still has the potential to overwhelm the NHS despite the ‘promising’ data that showed it was less likely to send someone to hospital.
Boris Johnson faces another backbench rebellion if he tries to implement new Covid curbs (Picture: Getty)
The country saw a record 119,789 infections on Thursday as the variant continues to infect people far quicker than previous waves.
This could still overwhelm the NHS because if infections are high, then even a small proportion of people needing hospital treatment will fill beds.
In his Christmas message to the nation released on Friday, the Prime Minister will say: ‘Though the time for buying presents is theoretically running out, there is still a wonderful thing you can give your family and the whole country, and that is to get that jab, whether it is your first or second, or your booster.
He will add: ‘We have been getting that vaccination that protects us and stops us infecting others.
Many largescale New Year’s Eve events have already been cancelled (Picture: Shutterstock)
‘And I hope I can be forgiven for taking pride in the immense spirit of neighbourliness that the people of this country have shown.
‘Getting jabbed not just for themselves, for ourselves, but for friends and family and everyone we meet.’
The UKHSA data suggested someone with Omicron is estimated to be between 31% and 45% less likely to attend A&E compared with Delta, and between 50% and 70% less likely to be admitted to hospital.
The agency emphasised that its findings regarding the severity of Omicron were ‘preliminary and highly uncertain’ because of the small numbers of confirmed cases currently in hospital.
Vaccination is also believed to give less protection against Omicron, and the data suggested immunity from a booster jab starts to wane 10 weeks after vaccination.
Mr Javid yesterday confirmed the Government would not be announcing any new restrictions for England before Christmas.
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Original Post: metro.co.uk