Boris Johnson says England will have no new COVID-19 restrictions before new year
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday said he will not introduce any new coronavirus restrictions in England before the new year.
The decision goes against new, restrictive measures made in other parts of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
The U.K., like other countries, is battling a deadly surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations driven by the omicron variant.
“We will continue to monitor the data carefully, but there will be no new restrictions introduced in England before the New Year,” Johnson tweeted.
He urged citizens to get vaccinated and boosted to protect themselves.
However, I would urge everyone to continue to act cautiously given the rising number of Omicron cases.
Most importantly I urge everyone to get their first, second or booster jab without delay to protect yourselves and your loved ones. 2/2https://t.co/HFdDcrX3l4
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 27, 2021
Northern Ireland closed nightclubs and indoor standing events in response to omicron’s threat, while Wales and Scotland have placed tighter restrictions on large gatherings.
The United Kingdom, after reporting a drop in cases last month, saw cases skyrocket in December. It has recorded a 30 percent increase in positive cases in the last seven days.
Health officials reported more than 98,000 confirmed coronavirus cases yesterday and 143 deaths, with hospitalizations increasing 8.2 percent in the last seven days.
Vaccinations remain a priority for Johnson’s administration and the main tool to combat omicron. Eighty-two percent of the U.K.’s population 12 years or older is fully vaccinated, while 56 percent have received a booster shot.
England does have restrictions for indoor venues, including a mandate requiring people to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter. People are also required to wear masks in most settings, but restaurants and night clubs are exempt from that order.
Simon Clarke, a professor of microbiology at Reading University, told The Guardian on Monday the decision not to place more restrictions ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations could have drastically negative effects.
“While nobody wants to live under tighter controls, the public need to realise that if we end up with a significant problem of hospitalisations and mass sickness, it will be worse than if authorities had acted earlier,” he told the news outlet.
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