Boris Johnson will hold a Covid press conference this afternoon after warning a ‘blizzard’ of infections is spreading across Europe.
The PM will appear from Downing Street at 3pm alongside the chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and the chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.
He’ll likely warn people to get a booster jab or face the prospect of restrictions returning over Christmas.
Earlier, it was announced that those aged 40 to 49 are being offered a third dose of a vaccine for the first time.
The booster rollout is being extended at a time where infections are rapidly rising in parts of the continent.
Speaking to reporters earlier, Mr Johnson warned this ‘blizzard’ could derail plans to let Christmas go ahead with no rules in place.
He said: ‘We don’t see anything in the data at the moment to suggest that we need to go to Plan B, we’re sticking with Plan A.
‘But what we have certainly got to recognise is there is a storm of infection out there in parts of Europe, you can see those numbers ticking up very sharply in some of our continental friends.
‘And we’ve just got to recognise that there is always a risk that a blizzard could come from the east again, as the months get colder.
‘The best protection for our country is for everybody to go forward and get their booster.’
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s most recent overview listed 10 countries as being ‘of very high concern’ – Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia.
Across the EU as a whole, the assessment noted a ‘high and rapidly increasing overall case notification’.
Earlier Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden admitted that travel restrictions may need to return if there is a ‘dramatic change’ in the situation in nearby countries.
Under Plan B of the Government’s strategy for the autumn and winter, the use of face coverings could become mandatory, vaccine passports could be required for some busy venues and people could be asked to work from home where possible.
Ministers are hopeful this will not be needed and are instead pushing the booster campaign as a way of averting new restrictions.
But the uptake of third doses has been slower than the previous rollout and 25% of over 70s still haven’t had the jab.
Mr Johnson told reporters during a visit to a GP practice: ‘So far, we’ve got 75% of everybody over 70 getting a booster, that’s a huge number of people, but it’s that further 25% that will make all the difference to the winter, to Christmas, to our plans going forward, because it’s that extra level of protection that we really need.
‘So the message is anybody over 70 come forward, get your booster, anybody over 50 come forward to get your booster, and now, in the next week or so, anybody over 40 as well come forward and get your booster.’
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