BORIS Johnson has no plans to bring in any further Covid restrictions in the next three weeks, a minister said today.
Health minister Ed Argar said another tightening up of curbs on daily life is “not something I’m anticipating”.
Health minister Ed Argar
Brits now have to wear masks on public transport and in shopsCredit: AFP
And he insisted he’s “looking forward to a Christmas with family and friends” despite the Omicron variant fears.
The PM announced on Saturday travel rules are being tightened and mandatory masks reintroduced in public spaces.
People will have to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport – but not in pubs and restaurants.
Mr Argar said there’s no plan to tighten restrictions “at this point” and that “hopefully we won’t need to make any changes”.
And he insisted he’s “confident” the Test and Trace programme “will be able to scale up and meet the challenge”.
Sajid Javid will today give a major update to MPs today on Britain’s fight against the Omicron variant.
The health secretary is set to brief Parliament on the new battle with the virus at around 3.30pm.
His appearance will come with scientists expected to green light booster jabs for all UK adults today.
The JCVI expert group may also cut the gap between the second and third dose to five months.
‘Can’t stop’ Omicron
Three cases of the new Omicron super strain have already been identified in Britain.
Mr Argar admitted that number will inevitably rise and the UK “can’t stop” the variant spreading.
He warned the best No 10 can hope for is to “slow it down” while scientists learn more.
And he said it will take up to three weeks for them to properly understand the new strain.
Asked about the number of cases of Omicron in the UK, he he replied: “There are three confirmed cases. I’ll be honest, I would expect that to rise.
“We don’t know by what speed or by what numbers, so therefore what we’re doing is trying to slow it down. But we can’t stop it.
“We’re trying to give ourselves the time to understand how it works and how it interacts with the vaccine.”
Ministers and scientists are scrambling to work out how contagious and dangerous the new strain is.
However, one doctor in South Africa has claimed the variant does not cause loss of taste or smell but has “unusual” and “mild” symptoms – including intense fatigue and high heart rate.
Mr Argar said he expects an announcement from the JCVI on extending the booster programme “within the coming hours”.