By Connor Steel
BORIS JOHNSON finally ended anxiety and uncertainty for millions by confirming that all English residents can continue their planned Christmas celebrations this weekend, saying that he wouldn’t introduce further restrictions this side of the holidays following days of intense speculation across the media of potential lockdowns and measures.
The Prime Minister announced this news in a short update video released by Downing Street at 5pm on Tuesday evening; which comes after a long cabinet meeting twenty-four hours earlier in which it was decided that more evidence was needed to justify any further measures covering Christmas Day, with celebrations due on Saturday.
Areas included continuing uncertainty about the actual severity of the new Omicron variant, the real impact on hospitalisation rates and the ongoing progress of the vaccine booster programme. Nearly 900k booster jabs were provided on Monday alone, bringing the total to over twenty five million triple injections since late September.
“We don’t think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas” (Boris Johnson, PM)
But Mr Johnson added a cautious note as he refused to rule out further restrictions after Christmas with rumours of a circuit breaker on the cards before New Year. He said that his government “can’t rule out any further measures after Christmas” and they will “keep a constant eye on the data, and do whatever it takes to protect public health”.
Advice such as taking a lateral flow test before visiting family members, wearing face coverings and improving air ventilation was all given by the PM, who concluded by urging everybody to receive a third jab or come forward for 1st / 2nd injections under his continuing ‘Get Boosted Now’ programme.
Local Covid-19 figures show increased vaccinations
This update from the PM has coincided with recent figures showing that Gosport and Fareham have both reached a key landmark, having over half of its population over eighteen years old triple jabbed according to released figures available on the Government Dashboard and BBC Coronavirus trackers.
With an improved push on vaccinations 51% of Gosport residents have received all three injections since December 2020, with 87% having their first jab and eighty percent having their second doze in figures updated on Monday. There was 429 cases between December 11 and December 17, a fall of 96 positive results from the previous week.
In contrast Fareham seem to be having more take-up of the vaccination with 60% of residents having received their booster jabs to date, whilst 91% have received a first doze and 85% their second over the last twelve months. But unlike their neighbouring borough cases have risen with 847 cases in the week December 11-17, representing an increase of 115 from the previous week.
Currently Gosport and Fareham are under Plan B restrictions, which includes guidance of working at home if this is possible. Face masks must be worn in most indoor environments such as pubs, cafes, and restaurants alongside public transport; unless users are medically exempt from this measure.
Devolved Governments announce new messages and Chancellor outlines business coronavirus support
In other news Scotland and Wales have announced their own restrictions over recent days, with Nicola Sturgeon implementing a limit on outdoor events to 500 whilst indoor crowds will be reduced to 200 if they are seated from Boxing Day. Wales have announced that sporting events will be held without fans and nightclubs are to be closed from December 27.
The final announcement today came from Chancellor Rishi Sunak who has set out details of a £1bn fund to help businesses hit by the recent rise in cases; with particular focus on most hospitality and leisure activities. It could offer businesses £6000 per premise and this would be a cash grant, but has seen mixed reactions to the announcement – More information can be found on this BBC News link.
PICTURED BY SKY NEWS: Boris Johnson announces that Christmas plans for millions can go ahead as scheduled, but did warn of caution.