DON’T cancel Christmas parties! Boris and Saj try to quell hospitality fears as pub, retail and travel bosses plead with PM not to bring back restrictions after health chief called for ‘limit to festive socialising’

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  • Dr Jenny Harris warns Omicron could have a ‘significant impact on our hospitals’ if jabs are too weak
  • The head of NHS Test and Trace said reducing socializing during the festive period could help prevent the spread of the variant
  • But the prime minister this afternoon urged people not to cancel Christmas parties or school birth plays
  • Said Javid also said the vaccination program would give the UK ‘huge gains’ compared to last winter
  • New rules on mandatory face masks and self-isolation went into effect in England from 4 am today

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Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid today tried to allay hospitality fears, as health experts suggested it was ‘sensible’ for people to limit socializing during the festive period.

The prime minister urged people not to cancel Christmas parties or school plays as he promised to ‘throw everything’ in a booster vaccination campaign to tackle the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

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He promised that by the end of January at least 400 military personnel helping the NHS and vaccination centers would ‘pop up like a Christmas tree’ to offer a jab to all eligible people.

Mr Johnson rejected a call from a senior health official to limit socializing for Christmas, insisting he had already put in place a package of ‘balanced and proportionate measures’ in response to the threat posed by the new version. was kept.

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But as Omicron cases in the UK reached 22, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said they were likely to go further and that ‘we have to be realistic’ that there is a possibility of transmission of the new strain already within the community.

He said people should get vaccinated to “have the best of Christmas with their loved ones”.

Mr Javid said: ‘What we have been seeing lately is bringing back memories of the stress of last winter. But although we can’t say for sure what will happen next, we have a huge advantage that we didn’t have then: our vaccination program, which has already done a lot to keep this virus at bay.

‘But these defenses will keep us safe only when we use them. This is a national mission and we all have a role to play in this.

‘If we want to give ourselves the best possible Christmas present with our loved ones, the best thing we can do is step up, roll up our sleeves, and be safe when the time comes.’

Face coverings became mandatory in England on Tuesday morning in shops and public transport, along with stricter testing requirements for international travel and the return of self-isolation for contacts of confirmed Omicron cases, even if they are completely have been vaccinated. ,

But it is the booster campaign that the government believes provides the biggest line of defense against Omicron and Mr Johnson used a Downing Street press conference to deliver millions of jabs to mark another ‘great British vaccination effort’. promised.

“We’re going to throw everything at it to make sure all eligible people are offered boosters in just two months,” he said.

Mr Javid said the booster program would be put ‘on steroids’ to meet the target, while NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said staff were working at ‘breakneck speed’.

The announcement of the rapid expansion of the booster campaign came after Downing Street clashed with a senior health official over his suggestion that people should limit social contacts for Christmas.

The government’s top health experts had previously said that a cautious approach to office parties could help stop the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

But owners of beleaguered hospitality businesses – still reeling from nearly two years of Covid disruption – warned today that further setbacks could be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for some places.

Others warned the government not to be heavy with restrictions in what they described as a ‘critical time for the sector’.

It comes as Dr Jenny Harris, chief executive of the UK Health Protection Agency and boss of NHS Test and Trace,’Being mindful’ and ‘not socializing when we don’t particularly need to’ can be beneficial.

He also indicated that England may return to work from home guidance if cases rise, saying ‘iIf we see a boom, working from home will be a good thing.

Mr Johnson was asked about Dr Harris’ social comments during a lunchtime visit to a vaccination center in London and said he believed it was ‘always wiser to be careful’ and ‘ I think what Jenny is saying is correct’.

However, the prime minister insisted that the government was “not going to change the overall guidance” as he said he stood by his original response to the new version.

Meanwhile, Downing Street shrugged off the idea of ​​a possible return to work from home as the PM’s official spokesman said ‘this is not our advice to the public at present’.

The government’s new Omicron-focused rules in England went into effect at 4am today and include making face masks mandatory in shops and on public transport, requiring returning travelers to take a PCR test on or before two days after arrival in the UK . To self-isolate for 10 days all contacts of variant’s case.

The new rules have sparked a backlash from hospitality owners who have warned the measures, as well as suggestions that socializing should be limited, could deal a hammer blow to the struggling sector.

Meanwhile, the aviation industry has also expressed major concerns about the tough testing requirements for holidaymakers.

Airline EasyJet said the new version was already showing some impact on demand as it disclosed annual losses of more than £1 billion.

Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan today urged people in the capital to go beyond the government’s face mask rules as he called on pubs and restaurants to wear coverings as well.

Nationally, restrictions are to be reviewed again in three weeks, meaning Britons…

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