Government Rules Out New Covid Restrictions Before New Year
The government has confirmed there will be no new restrictions before the New Year after Boris Johnson was briefed today on Covid figures from the Christmas weekend.
"There will be no further measures before the new year," health secretary Sajid Javid said on Monday afternoon.
Javid urged people to be "cautious" when attending New Year celebrations and encouraged people to take lateral flow tests ahead of meeting outside of their household, and to even consider planning outdoor events.
The news came as England reported a record high of 113,628 new Covid cases on Christmas Day, with a further 103,558 cases on Boxing day, and 98,515 on 27 December. The highly infectious Omicron variant is now believed to account for 90% of Covid cases in England.
Javid said that the government was continuing to monitor data on Covid cases and hospital admissions, and did not rule out further measures being introduced in January.
"When we get into the New Year of course we will see then whether we do need to take any further measures, but there will be nothing more until then at least," Javid added.
Boris Johnson was briefed on the latest Covid data today by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, and will continue to closely monitor figures over the coming days.
Today's decision by government sets England aside from Scotland and Wales, who have in the last 24 hours moved to tougher restrictions on large events, as well as placing curbs on household mixing.
Waiting until the New Year to make any changes to England's current Covid rules will also mean that parliament does not need to be recalled before it is due to return from Christmas recess next week in order for MPs to have a say on any rule changes.
Currently England is under "Plan B" Covid restrictions, which requires people to wear masks in some indoor settings including retail and on public transport. Covid certification is also needed for large events such as football matches.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe