SAGE has also warned ministers that more stringent coronavirus restrictions may be needed to stop the variant before full data is available on how dangerous it is
Boris Johnson has said Christmas should go ahead “as normally as possible” despite widespread concern about the Omicron variant.
Speaking during a visit to Oswestry in North Shrops, the Prime Minister added to the confusion by saying people did not need to cancel parties or nativities.
Glossing over contradictory advice from his own ministers in recent days, he said: “There’s been quite a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, people concerned they need to cancel Christmas parties.
“That’s not right, we’re not saying that… Christmas should go ahead as normally as possible.”
But asked what he had to say to bereaved families following our revelations that No10 hosted parties last year in breach of lockdown restrictions he said: “What I’ve said throughout, since this thing was brought up, was that’s not true, we’ve followed the guidance throughout.”
Yesterday one leading scientist publicly said he would not feel safe going to an Xmas bash.
SAGE’s Prof Peter Openshaw urged caution, saying: “I wouldn’t feel safe going to a party, if it involves being indoors in an enclosed space.”
Last night Sainsbury’s said it had cancelled all staff parties until January.
It comes as confirmed UK Omicron cases topped 50.
SAGE has also warned ministers that more stringent restrictions may be needed to stop the variant before full data is available on how dangerous it is.
Minutes from a meeting on November 29, released yesterday, warn: “Even if measures are introduced immediately, there may not be time to fully ascertain whether they are sufficient before decisions are needed on further action.”
Tories have been coming out with differing advice daily. Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said “snogging under the mistletoe” should be avoided, but Health Secretary Sajid Javid insisted “people can snog who they wish”.
Dr Penelope Toff, of the British Medical Association said “contradictory messages are unhelpful”.
Hospitality groups fear a flood of cancellations could heap yet more misery on the already struggling sector.