Boris Johnson fights to save New Year’s Eve as he pushes against new Covid rules that could ban indoor drinking in pubs
BORIS Johnson is fighting to save New Year’s Eve celebrations as he pushes against new Covid-19 rules that could BAN indoor drinking in pubs.
The PM is unlikely to recall Parliament to rubberstamp legally-binding lockdown restrictions such as the loathed Rule of Six, sources claim.
This means that the introduction of restrictions that would leave Brits’ much-anticipated New Year’s Eve plans ruined are looking increasingly unlikely, the Daily Mail reports.
It comes after a string of hugely positive studies show 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.
As it stands, the PM looks likely to urge Brits to be cautious and limit contacts, but he is keen to avoid legally binding rules that would be enforced by cops.
Mr Johnson is set to a final decision only after a crunch meeting with medical advisers Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance on Covid hospitalisation rates today.
The PM and his advisers will trawl through new numbers on the rates in London — dubbed Omicron ground zero and seen as the canary in the coal mine for Covid.
If the figures are positive, Mr Johnson could be persuaded to stick to lighter touch measures introduced under Plan B, potentially with some extra words of guidance.
However, if cases were beginning to put unsustainable pressure on the NHS, the PM may feel the need to intervene with more stringent restrictions.
The Times reported that in whichever scenario, however, weddings and funerals would be exempt from any new rules.
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.”
‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’
Latest London hospital rates showed numbers with Covid rocketed by over 90 per cent in a week — hitting 386 on December 22.
According to reports, if the number hits 400 a day then the country is in big trouble, although health sources say they do not recognise this figure.
Government insiders said schools will definitely reopen next month.
And the booster programme has been going well, with vaccination centres jabbing through Christmas. More than 32 million — over 60 per cent of adults in the UK — have had their booster.
Also, encouraging data out last week showed those infected with Omicron were up to 70 per cent less likely to end up in hospital than those with other variants. Downing Street sources said the PM was hoping to stick to his approach of Plan B.
Sir Graham Brady, powerful chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, warned against new restrictions. Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said: “It must not happen. Enough is enough.”
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