The Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the nation on Tuesday evening that the government will not be imposing new restrictions this side of Christmas.
Johnson said that there is “continuing uncertainty” over how severe the Omicron variant and what this means with hospital admissions, but at the moment he said there is not enough evidence to justify stricter measures for now.
In a video message Johnson said, “There is no doubt that Omicron continues to surge with a speed unlike anything we’ve seen before.
“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.”
Johnson added, “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.
“And remember to keep following the guidance – wear a mask indoors when required to do so, keep fresh air circulating, and take a test before you visit elderly or vulnerable relatives.”
Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said, “we are all breathing a sigh of relief that Christmas is going ahead as planned.”
However Streeting insisted, “the country also deserves some certainty about what comes after Christmas so that families and businesses can plan ahead”.
He added, “The virus won’t be taking Christmas off and there’s still a risk of the NHS being overwhelmed in the new year.
“Boris Johnson is too weak to get any measures to keep the country safe through his Cabinet.”
Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley, the Father of the House, said “most MPs of all parties now are aware of what is the factual basis for understanding the situation”.
Sir Peter told the PA news agency, “There are some things unknown now which will become better known over the next week or two. And there are a number of myths which people need to be aware of.
“The next point is this: the statistics are a combination of the growing numbers of the new variant and the declining tail of the old variant. And you cannot just combine the two to give yourself a proper picture of what is going on and what might go on.”