politics

Boris Johnson will hold Downing Street press conference today on Omicron variant


The Prime Minister is expected to update the UK on new Covid rules which came into force at 4am today and discuss the booster vaccine rollout in a briefing in No10

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Omicron: Boris Johnson announces tightening of coronavirus rules

Boris Johnson will give a Downing Street press conference this afternoon after new measures took force to tackle the Omicron variant.

The Prime Minister will speak after a flurry of announcements over the weekend as scientists found 11 cases of the strain with more than 30 mutations in the UK – with more cases expected to follow.

He is expected to speak about the new compulsory face mask rules which took effect in England from 4am today.

Mr Johnson will urge people to get their booster vaccines after the rollout was extended to all over-18s and the gap between second and third doses halved to three months.

According to reports, he will set a new target of 500,000 boosters a day – up from around 350,000 – and spell out when age groups can come forward. Health Minister Gillian Keegan said: “We be trying to increase the rate from the current rate.”

He will also likely speak about new travel rules which force all arrivals to take a Day 2 PCR test and isolate until it comes back negative.

But Scotland and Wales’ governments have demanded Mr Johnson go further and keep all arrivals in isolation until a Day 8 test.







Boris Johnson giving a previous No10 press conference
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The Prime Minister has also not yet enacted all of England’s ‘Plan B’ measures, leaving vaccine passports for nightclubs and stadiums in reserve.

And the government has not advised people in England to work from home where possible, despite advice of that kind in Scotland.

Asked if the Government might tighten up England’s rules even further in the next three weeks, minister Edward Argar said: “It’s not something I’m anticipating.”

But the PM’s spokesman did not rule out tighter travel rules, or tighter rules after the new restrictions are reviewed in three weeks’ time.

No10 said Boris Johnson was not “planning” to adopt the plea for eight days’ isolation, but did not rule it out, saying the response would be kept under review.

Straight after today’s press conference, MPs will vote on an SNP motion to censure the PM for “frequently violating” ethics rules and more than halve his ministerial pay, cutting it by £41,567.







Critics suggest the Prime Minister is not going far enough
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POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Johnson could also face a revolt from some Tory backbenchers at around 4pm when the new Covid measures go to a vote. They are concerned about what will happen when the measures expire on December 20 – with Parliament in recess.

In quotes released overnight by No10, the Prime Minister said: “The measures taking effect today are proportionate and responsible, and will buy us time in the face of this new variant.

“Based on everything we know, our vaccines and boosters remain our best line of defence, so it is more important than ever that people come forward when eligible to get boosted.

“Not only will today’s steps help us slow down the variant’s spread, but they will help us protect each other and the gains we have all worked so hard for.”

The NHS is expected to set out more details of when people can book their boosters after tens of millions of Brits became eligible overnight.

Health Minister Gillian Keegan said the booking system would be up and running “in the next couple of days”, urging people to “wait to be contacted for now”.

Asked if Christmas will be ruined, she replied: “Hopefully not”.

She added: “Let’s be proportional and balanced, as we’re trying to be. We have five cases today. That will go up I’m pretty sure, but what we’re trying to do is really clamp down on that as much as possible.”

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