Boris Johnson has announced that there will be no further Covid restrictions put in place before Christmas to combat the omicron variant.
However, he warned that the situation remained “finely balanced” and said the Government would “not hesitate” to bring in further restrictions after Christmas if necessary.
Earlier today, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a clutch of new restrictions from Boxing Day, including restrictions on pubs, a cap of 500 spectators at live sports events including football matches, and the cancellation of Scotland’s traditional Hogmanay celebrations.
Regional number of Omicron Covid cases in England [Map]
In a video statement, Mr Johnson said: “The situation remains extremely difficult but I also recognise that people have been waiting to hear whether their Christmas plans are going to be affected.
“So what I can say tonight, 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, and we’ll 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 rate or the impact of the vaccine rollout or 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.
“What this means is that people can go ahead with their Christmas plans but the situation remains finely balanced and I would urge everyone to exercise caution, to keep protecting yourselves and your loved ones, especially the vulnerable.”
Ministers are expected to receive new modelling for the spread of omicron from Imperial College within the next 24 hours, which could help crystallise any decision on further restrictions in England.
It means there could be a second virtual cabinet meeting this week held on Wednesday to consider fresh restrictions and whether to recall Parliament next week in order to allow MPs to vote on any plans.