The Prime Minister reportedly will not announce any further restrictions on the control of the Omicron variant in England after being briefed on the impact of Christmas on Covid infections and hospital pressures.
In a meeting known as an internal government meeting, Boris Johnson was due to discuss the latest data on Monday from the Chief Medical Officer of English Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific advisor.
The PA news agency believes that no announcement is expected from the meeting, which may put England at odds with other parts of the UK that have restrictions put in place after Christmas.
Conservative MPs in England have urged caution to go beyond Plan B and veteran Tory Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown called for a “wait and see” approach to the effects of infection on hospital admissions.
The latest UK infection data currently publicly available comes from Christmas Eve, when more than 122,000 people tested positive in the past 24 hours, while hospital data on the government dashboard has not been updated since December 20.
Sir Geoffrey said he hoped the Prime Minister would “be very careful before taking any further action” as he urged people to “make their own decisions” when it comes to taking precautions against infection.
As a sign that people could curb their own behavior after Christmas, retail chiefs said they had seen a “subdued start” in post-Christmas sales. Pandemic foot count on Boxing Day.
Jace Tyrrell, CEO of The West End Company, which represents 600 companies on Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street and Mayfair, said the turnout was largely due to the advent of the Omicron variant.
The comments come as hospitality has been curtailed and major events have been introduced for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the Scottish Government ordering nightclubs to close from Monday while hospitality businesses are once again limited to table service only when alcohol is served.
England is currently subject to the UK Government’s Plan B rulebook, which instructs them to work from home, wear masks in shops and other public places, and obtain Covid Passes for access to large events.
Cotswolds MP Sir Geoffrey asked if he was concerned that England was “out of step” with the rest of the UK on Omicron restrictions and criticized the decisions of the decentralized administrations.
The 1922 Conservative Committee Treasurer told Times Radio: “I think the principalities are not in line with England.
“I think they have been too careful, I think they are doing more damage to their economy than necessary, I think they are doing more damage to people’s freedoms than necessary.
“I just don’t think the evidence exists to take any further action unless the data released today looks very different.”
Mr Johnson has not yet announced any further rules for England, but has indicated that he will not hesitate to act after Christmas if it is necessary in light of rising cases of the Omicron variant.
According to reports, the government could choose to issue new voluntary guidelines on restricting contacts rather than risking another harmful Tory rebellion by reminding parliament to impose new rules over the existing Plan B measures.
Sir Geoffrey said that should the Prime Minister decide to increase the measures required to combat Omicron, there would be “no way out” to use them as a guide, adding, “I think that would be a very sensible way forward. “
The Times reported that even if further measures are imposed, plans will be drawn up to exempt weddings and funerals – considered “major life events” – from new rules and disruptions.
Adam Finn, professor of pediatrics at the University of Bristol, said the number of staff absenteeism due to Covid infection is likely to play a role in government considerations on whether to go beyond Plan B.
“Apparently a lot of new cases are still being discovered,” he told PA.
“I expect hospital bed occupancy and staff absenteeism due to isolation rules will be critical public health factors in any decision.”
Stephen Barclay, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, was due to chair a session Monday on Monday on how to mitigate the effects of health care absences, according to The Times.
More stories from where you live can be found at Near you.