Boris Johnson ‘could beg Brits to follow voluntary guidance’ but NOT impose new Covid rules to save New Year’s
BORIS Johnson could beg Brits to follow voluntary lockdown “guidance” but he will NOT impose new Covid rules in a bid to save New Year’s Eve.
The PM has been reluctant to recall Parliament to rubberstamp legally-binding lockdown restrictions such as the loathed Rule of Six and outdoor-only dining.
But country-wide “guidance” – which cannot be enforced by cops and does not need commons approval – is still on the cards for New Year’s Eve, insiders claim.
The lack of new rules follows a string of hugely positive studies which show that Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
It was today revealed that Mr Johnson won’t announce any more lockdown restrictions as he was expected to meet with top advisors Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.
Data on hospitalisations in London – ground zero for the latest highly transmissible variant – was discussed, as the scientists gave a positive insight into Omicron cases during the Christmas break, it is understood.
But voluntary guidance could still be issued on several key points.
These include a return of the Rule of Six for mixing indoors, and a re-introduction of outdoor-only dining at pubs and restaurants.
Brits will also be urged to limit social contact and keep working from home – alongside additional calls for everyone to get boosted if they are able to.
It is understood that weddings, births, and funerals will be exempt from any new guidance, The Times reports.
There will also be no changes to the number of people allowed to attend funerals, in a marked change to the dark days of the full shutdown last year.
Tory MPs have urged caution in going beyond Plan B in England, with Conservative Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown calling for a “wait-and-see” approach to the impact of infections on hospital admissions.
On December 24 – the last day of data before the Christmas blackout – more than 122,000 people tested positive.
Hospital data on the Government dashboard has not been updated since December 20.
Sir Geoffrey said he hoped the Prime Minister would be “very cautious before introducing further measures” as he pushed for people to be able to “make their own decisions” when it came to taking precautions against infection.
Hopes that Mr Johnson will resist a circuit-break lockdown have been boosted by research which showed Omicron is milder than other strains.
Brits infected with the variant are around 50 per cent less likely to end up in hospital.
The research by Imperial College included 56,000 cases of Omicron and 269,000 cases of Delta and was taken from PCR tests from 1 to 14 December.
In other Covid-19 news:
The team led by Professor Neil Ferguson – dubbed Prof Lockdown – found those testing positive with Omicron are 15 to 20 percent less likely to need hospital care.
And they are 40 to 45 per cent less likely to end up spending a night or more as an inpatient.
Half the level of severity means cases would have to rise twice as high to reach the same level of hospital admissions, compared with Delta.
In the meantime, real-world studies from South Africa – where Omicron was first detected – show people who catch the strain are 80 per cent less likely to be hospitalised than those infected with Delta.
And the economic impact of another shotgun lockdown could devastate Britain’s already hard-hit hospitality industry.
Desperate publicans yesterday wrote to the PM and Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging against new lockdown measures.
The pair were warned a return to the rule of six, table service only or the closure of indoor hospitality would leave many on the brink of closure.
Christmas takings are already down around 40 per cent on pre-pandemic levels — and a bad New Year’s Eve could push many over the edge, pubs warned.
The letter, organised by the Campaign for Pubs and signed by publicans across the country, said: “We are on the brink — in many cases literally on the verge of being unable to carry on, of walking away and of going under.”
It partly blames the Government’s “confused messaging”.
UK Hospitality head Kate Nicholls said: “We urge the PM to stick to current plans.
“There is still much we don’t know about Omicron but we do know the economic and social hit lockdowns and restrictions have so caution is right.”
NEW YEAR SAVED
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have begun a Boxing Day crackdown in a bid to stop rising Covid cases.
The rule of six returned in Wales, with only half a dozen people allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants.
Two metre social distancing is also required in public premises and offices, and nightclubs closed their doors ahead of New Year’s Eve.
Meanwhile in Scotland, people are urged to keep one metre distance from one another.
Crowds are limited to 100 people standing indoors, 200 people sitting indoors and 500 people outdoors from Boxing Day.
Only three households can socialise at indoor and outdoor venues – including bars, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and gyms – with one metre social distancing enforced.
Table service is also making a comeback in places where alcohol is served.
And in Northern Ireland, nightclubs have shut, indoor standing events are banned and only three separate households are permitted to get together – with the Rule of Six returning to pubs, bars and restaurants.
The Prime Minister is unlikely to follow suit and put in place freedom-limiting restrictions himself, it is understood.
Although, concerns are heightened as England has previously followed after the devolved nations in introducing lockdown measures earlier in the pandemic.
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