Boris Johnson decides against additional Covid restrictions for England before the New Year

Boris Johnson decides against additional Covid restrictions for England before the New Year

Boris Johnson withdrew from the introduction of new restrictions in England before New Year’s Eve, despite the constant increase in the number of coronavirus cases during the Christmas weekend.

The British Prime Minister has decided not to act after a briefing on the latest data on the infection by the Chief Medical Officer of England, Professor Chris Whitty, and the Chief Government Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Valance.

A break in gathering information from across the UK during the holiday weekend meant the government on Monday released incomplete data for three days for England alone. But combined with initial data from Scotland, they suggest that new levels of infection on Christmas are close to the record of 122,186 infected across the United Kingdom reported on Friday.

In England alone, 113,628 new infections were confirmed on Christmas, with another 103,558 on 26 December and 98,515 in the last 24 hours. In Scotland, the provisional figures for the three days were 8,252, 11,030 and 10,562, respectively.

Acknowledging the Prime Minister’s decision, Sayyid Javid, the Minister of Health, called on people in England to “stay vigilant” on New Year’s Eve, to celebrate outside where possible and to do side-flow tests before visiting family and friends.

“Of course, we look at the data on a daily basis – that has not changed during the Christmas period – but there will be no further measures before the new year,” Javid said.

“Celebrate outside if you can, have some ventilation indoors if you can, please be careful. And when we enter the new year, of course, we will see if it is necessary to take some more measures – but nothing more until then. Javid said 90 percent of all reported cases are now a new variant of Omicron.

Johnson’s move to abandon tightening restrictions brings England into conflict with the rest of the UK, whose decentralized administrations on Sunday imposed stricter rules of social distancing to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.

In Scotland, three households can socialize, with a social distance of one meter recommended in facilities such as bars, restaurants and gyms. In Wales and Northern Ireland, a maximum of six people can meet in pubs, bars and restaurants, while nightclubs are closed. Northern Ireland also recommended that socializing be limited to three households.

Any move by the prime minister to impose further restrictions in England is likely to provoke a political reaction from ministers and MPs from Johnson’s party who are skeptical of further action.

Johnson has promised to recall Parliament before it takes effect, and has already reduced it to do so on New Year’s Eve, given two public holidays in England on Monday and Tuesday. It takes 48 hours to recall an MP.

The problems arose on Monday when people in England could not schedule PCR tests for several hours. The British Health Security Agency said the problem was “temporary” and that the service resumed on Monday afternoon.

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