Hopes Boris could scrap 'circuit breaker' plan – with families able to enjoy New Year & make own decisions on Covid
HOPES are rising that Boris Johnson may scrap plans for a tough "circuit breaker" after Christmas – and rules for New Year mixing may be downgraded to guidance instead.
It comes after two positive studies revealed that Brits infected with Omicron are around 50 per cent less likely to end up in hospital.
Their findings showed Brits who have had two doses have substantially reduced risk of hospitalisation compared to those who were unvaccinated and infected with Delta.
It comes as the UK hit the major milestone of 30million booster jabs yesterday in a record-breaking week for jabs.
Boris Johnson has given the go-ahead for Christmas celebrations, ruling out any tougher restrictions this side of the festive break.
But his gloomy words led to fears of a circuit-breaker to clamp down on cases, with pubs serving outside and indoor mixing banned.
However, the PM and his top team are still holding out for more data before making any final decisions on whether to bring in curbs on New Year parties, and whether to follow Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with extra measures.
A major report from the UK Health and Security Agency is due today with more data.
Sajid Javid said the data was "good, encouraging news" but the studies are "not very clear yet how much that risk is reduced".
He told Sky: "There could still be significant hospitalisation…. but people are behaving sensibly and much more cautiously since they've learned about this variant.
"People should enjoy their Christmases with family and friends, of course, remain cautious and we will keep the situation under review.
"If we need to do anything more, we will, but nothing more is going to happen before Christmas."
A Whitehall source told the Financial Times that any new measures that come in after Christmas could be guidance rather than law, in a boost for millions to be able to celebrate next week.
No10 sources said there was "nothing to justify more restrictions" at the moment but everything is being kept under close review.
They added: "it's better to wait for the data and be sure of the need to be tougher measures."
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, told the Daily Telegraph: "This new evidence means steady as she goes. Let's keep hospitality open.
"Let's say to the public be sensible but go out. And no more of this doom and gloom which is going to kill us.
"If we don't resist lockdown this time, we will be locking down every winter. Boris can gain from this by being decisive. Here is his chance to show the Scots and Welsh are ridiculous administrations."
Tim Loughton, a former minister, said: "If we don't have a surge of hospital admissions, there is no basis for a tightening of lockdown measures."
And scientists said any new rules may not need to be in place for long either, as the Omicron peak may fall quickly.
Prof Andrew Heywood told the BBC: "I don't think we are talking about the prolonged periods of restrictions we were talking about before.
"The speed this is going up means it's relatively fast up, fast down. We have a short term problem here."
He said the findings from an Imperial College study which appeared to show that the Omicron variant was weaker could lead to the conclusion that elderly people would be less badly affected, "but that needs to be balanced against the fact that the risk of that severe disease is innately much higher in older people anyway".
"I think we simply haven't really seen the data in older people to know.
"It's undeniably good news, but I think we're definitely not out of the danger zone – I think perhaps we can downgrade this from a hurricane to a very severe storm."
He warned against big mass gatherings taking place on New Years' eve as thousands go out to celebrate the start of 2022.
No10 stressed that no decisions have been made and Government is still waiting for more real-world data to come in on how the new variant affects hospitalisations and older people.
The Sun understands Downing Street will not make any announcements ahead of Christmas, which would ruin plans for millions of people.
However, Parliament could be recalled as early as Monday if ministers believe there is enough to warrant tougher restrictions.
The PM has put the nation on notice he won't hesitate to act if necessary, but is keen not to put England back into lockdown unnecessarily.
Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have all announced their own curbs to come into place after Christmas.
Nightclubs are to shut, the rule of six will return inside venues, and social distancing will return too.
The economy minister for Wales said today he thinks England is "out of step" with the other three UK nations on its Covid response.
Most read in Politics
NEW YEAR FEAR
Boris Johnson says Xmas is ON – but NYE looks doomed as Omicron cases soar
NEW YEAR FEAR
Don't plan NYE parties yet minister warns in big hint circuit breaker coming
Boris Johnson set to make announcement in next 48 HOURS on more restrictions
Boris Johnson confirms Christmas is ON and no new restrictions yet
Asked about plans in Wales to curb the spread of the virus, Vaughan Gething told Times Radio: "Scotland and Northern Ireland have taken relatively similar steps yesterday – it's England that's out of step with the other three nations.
"We've done this because of the clear public health advice we've got and because we are already starting to see a rise in cases."
He added: "We are a little more cautious certainly than England is – but that's because we think it's the right call."
Source: Read Full Article