BRITS should carry on going to the pub and holding Christmas parties despite the threat from the Omicron variant, a top minister said today.
Tory chief Oliver Dowden insisted people must “keep calm and carry on” and it’s even all right to snog strangers under the Mistletoe.
His upbeat assessment comes after days of mixed messages from senior ministers over how cautious we should be this festive season.
Even as he urged Brits not to cancel their seasonal drinks it emerged Government departments are moving their own bashes online.
Business minister George Freeman revealed staff at his office will now have to celebrate on Zoom after its annual shindig was shelved.
The department for education has canned plans for its annual talent show to go ahead in person, and it will now be video streamed instead.
There have also been widespread reports of businesses scrapping events over fears about Omicron and the risk of further restrictions.
Mr Dowden, who is chairman of the Conservatives, today insisted he won’t be cancelling the party’s festive bash.
He said: “I don’t think people should panic and cancel their plans. People can continue with their Christmas plans, I’d encourage people to do so.
“The message to people is keep calm and carry on with your Christmas plans. We’ve put the necessary restrictions in place.”
Covid curbs ‘sufficient for now’
He added: “The Government is not saying to people don’t go to the pub, don’t have a nice time. We’re not discouraging people from continuing to do so.”
Mr Dowden said it was fine to snog strangers under the mistletoe after days of Government flip-flopping on the issue.
And he said he understood concerns from pub and restaurant owners about the impact Omicron fears might have on trade.
He said the current restrictions around international travel and mask wearing in public places are “sufficient for now”.
The latest curbs are set to be reviewed just days before Christmas.
His remarks come after top scientists said booster jabs should protect Brits from serious illness caused by Omicron.
The uplifting new data vindicates the UK’s decision to offer Pfizer or Moderna as a third shot.
In a trial of seven boosters, the two mRNA jabs came out on top – triggering the biggest rise in Covid antibodies.
Volunteers experienced an up to 32 times spike in levels of the protective proteins.
Experts also observed patients given Pfizer or Modern experienced a sharp rise in T-cells, which also fight off the virus, by killing cells infected with Covid.
Lead researcher Professor Saul Faust, from University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said the broad immune response means boosters will likely cope well with Omicron.