Tens of thousands of New Year’s Eve partygoers from Scotland and Wales are expected to cross the border to avoid stricter Covid rules at home.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said no new restrictions would be imposed on England until 2022, urging people to ‘remain cautious’ of rising cases.
In contrast Wales and Scotland imposed a host of measures for the hospitality industry right after Christmas in a bid to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.
Edinburgh’s famous Hogmanay celebration has also been cancelled for the second year in a row.
Now, up to 100,000 revellers from Scotland and Wales are expected to travel to England to see in 2022.
It’s angered publicans who will lose customers as a result of stricter rules imposed by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakfeford.
Campaign for Pubs’ Greg Mulholland told the Sun: ‘We need a more coordinated, commonsense approach. It’s confusing for the many thousands of people who live near a border, and frustrating for publicans in Scotland and Wales.’
Donald MacCleod, who owns a nightclub in Glasgow, says he has already heard of bus trips planned to Carlisle, Liverpool, Blackpool and Manchester.
He added: ‘I wish those who go down there all the luck. Businesses such as mine and others are being crippled by these brutal restrictions.’
Brian Meighan tweeted: ‘Coach loads of us going to Newcastle to celebrate New Year, absolutely shocking c**p up here in Scotland.’
Another posted: ‘Regrettably just cancelled our restaurant and hotel bookings for 12 in Cardiff and rebooked for Bristol for NYE. Much rather the money spent in Wales but (rules) made it impossible.’
Despite the comparatively more relaxed approach in England, health minister Gillian Keegan says people should still take steps to protect themselves.
She added: ‘Take a lateral flow test before you go out. Go to well ventilated areas. I’ve been to a couple of outdoor parties actually.
‘People have moved things to outside so just be cautious. But you know, do try to enjoy yourself as well.’
Yesterday saw the UK break another record for daily Covid infections, as 129,471 new cases were confirmed – although reporting had been disrupted over the festive season.
There were another 18 deaths among people who tested positive for coronavirus in the past 28 days.
The number of people in hospital with Covid in England is now at 9,546, according top the latest figures.
This is up 38% in a week and is the highest number since March 3, but is still far below the peak of 34,000 in January.
Hospitalisations and deaths have so far not been rising as sharply as Omicron cases, even taking into account the lag between infection and needing treatment.
Even after New Year’s Eve, the Westminster government may still not impose new restrictions.
The Health Secretary said: ‘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.
‘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.
‘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.’
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