Covid restrictions may not even come in after New Year with data 'under review'

Restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus may not not come in even after the New Year, the government has said.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced yesterday that there would be no new rules in place before December 31, ending speculation that New Year’s Eve celebrations would have to be scaled down.

He said the government would continue to analyse the data around the pandemic to decide whether to reintroduce restrictions.

‘Whilst of course, yes there is still a lot of uncertainty around this variant, it is growing fast, we think some 90% of cases now across England are this new Omicron variant… we have had news in recent days that it is milder.’

The health secretary added: ‘Whilst we should all absolutely remain cautious we don’t think there’s any need for any further measures until the New Year – but of course we will keep that under review.’

He said: ‘Please remain cautious and when we get into the new year, of course, we will see then whether we do need to take any further measures, but nothing more until then, at least.’

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England, said there had been a growing number of Covid hospital admissions but ‘not precipitately so’.

Trusts are not reporting large numbers of patients arriving with Covid-type breathing problems like last January, Mr Hopson added.

But he warned that a high number of staff absences in the NHS – with Omicron-enforced isolation seen as a major cause – are creating such pressures that ‘even relatively small numbers of extra Covid cases may bring difficult decisions’.

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