The Prime Minister will update MPs before the Christmas break on December 16 – but Downing Street did not rule out imposing snap restrictions during recess if necessary
Image: Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street)
Boris Johnson will decide whether to change Covid restrictions with only days to spare before Christmas.
No 10 denied reports that the Government has pencilled in December 18 to formally review festive plans as experts scramble to gather evidence on the new Omicron variant.
Mr Johnson is expected to make an announcement to MPs in the final week before Parliament breaks up on December 16.
But Downing Street did not rule out imposing snap restrictions during recess if necessary.
Emergency laws brought in again last week will be subject to three-weekly review by December 21 while more data is gathered on Omicron.
Reports emerged at the weekend that Mr Johnson was aiming for December 18 to make a final decision about whether to change the rules ahead of Christmas.
But the PM’s spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “No I don’t recognise a set date. We have said we will update Parliament in the week commencing [December] 13th.
“What we are doing is seeking to get concrete data on the characteristics of this variant. Should that come before the three-week point then we will make a further decision.
“Like the rest of the world we are allowing the scientists, the experts, to do the necessary work. We can’t put a hard date on exactly when that will be but we are confident it will be within that three-week period.”
Asked to rule out extending the parliamentary term, the spokesman said it was “not something that’s being planned currently” but it was a matter for the Commons authorities.
Decisions on Covid restrictions can be made during recess if necessary, as has been done on other occasions during the pandemic, he said.
The spokesman said Downing Street was still considering holding a staff party this year – despite Covid fears.
He said: “We haven’t confirmed any dates at the moment. I think there is an intention to have a Christmas party this year.
“There is nothing in the limited restrictions that we’ve introduced that would prevent Christmas parties from taking place.”
The PM has repeatedly said he doesn’t want people to cancel their Christmas parties or nativity plays.
Speaking on a visit to Liverpool, Mr Johnson told reporters: “I don’t think we need to change the overall guidance and advice we’re giving about Omicron in this country.
“We’re still waiting to see exactly how dangerous it is, what sort of effect it has in terms of deaths and hospitalisations.”