politics

Kwasi Kwarteng says ‘book your Christmas party’ as he rules out winter lockdown



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orkers should go ahead and book their Christmas party a cabinet minister has said, after experts warned rising Covid cases could cancel celebrations.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on Wednesday ruled out any lockdowns over the winter and said the festive season will see parties “as usual”.

It follows comments made by Professor Stephen Reicher – a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours, which feeds into the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies – who said the prospect of further lockdowns could not be discounted.

But Mr Kwarteng said he would “rule out” mass quarantine restrictions, which were put in place over Christmas last year.

“There’ve been people saying the lockdown was unnecessary, there have been other people saying we should continue the lockdown,” he told Sky News.

“We’ve really plotted a path between those two extremes. I think it’s worked and that’s why, one of the reasons, we’ve got the fastest-growing economy in the G7.

“There’s a reason for that, and that’s because we’ve managed to successfully roll out the vaccine and reopen the economy and that’s something that I think we’re very grateful for.”

When asked whether he would book a Christmas party he told Times Radio: “Absolutely, I think I already have. We have got some arrangements in place and I look forward to having a Christmas party as usual.”

Health experts have warned ministers should implement a back-up strategy following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. However deaths are well below last winter’s peak.

Matthew Taylor, head of the NHS Confederation which represents health service organisations, said: “The NHS is preparing for what could be the most challenging winter on record.

“It is time for the government to enact Plan B of its strategy without delay because without pre-emptive action, we risk stumbling into a winter crisis.”

There have been more than 40,000 Covid cases recorded daily for the last seven days.

On Tuesday there were 43,738 new infections reported. Another 223 deaths were also recorded – the highest number since March.

The Government said there is “absolutely no plan” for further measures, but is keeping a “very close eye” on the data.



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