Johnson commits to no new Covid restrictions before Christmas in England

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Prime Minister Boris Johnson commits to no new Covid restrictions before Christmas in England

Related tags lockdown Coronavirus

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed there will be no further Coronavirus restrictions introduced in England before Christmas, but warned that curbs could be imposed after 25 December.

In a video posted on social media and released by Downing Street, the Prime Minister said 'people can go ahead with their Christmas plans', but urged caution and suggests people should take a test before meeting elderly relatives.

"The situation remains extremely difficult, but I also recognise that people have been waiting to hear about whether their Christmas plans, your Christmas plans, are going to be affected," Johnson said.

"What I can say is that naturally we can't rule out any further measures after Christmas, and we're going to keep a constant eye on the data - we will do whatever it takes to protect public health."

"But, in view of the continuing uncertainty about several things - the severity of Omicron, uncertainty about the hospitalisation rates or the impact of the vaccine rollout and the boosters - we don't think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas.

"We continue to monitor Omicron very closely and if the situation deteriorates we will be ready to take action if needed."

There have been reports suggesting the Government is considering announcing a two-week 'circuit breaker' lockdown, which could start as early as 27 December. Under such circumstances, hospitality businesses would likely either be expected to close or only be allowed to operate outdoor service. 

This morning (22 December), Health Minister Gillian Keegan said the Government is unable to rule it a 'circuit breaker' after Christmas until the latest Omicron data is released.

“We have to keep that option open, cases are going up at the moment and we are looking at hospitalisations going up,”  she told Sky News​.

“We do have to reserve that option. We will not hesitate if it is required to keep people safe.”

The news comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak committed to fresh financial support for hospitality​ including a grant of up to £6,000 per premises to help the industry weather the drop in business caused by the Omicron variant.

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