Boris Johnson not expected to announce any further restrictions today in England
No further restrictions are expected to be announced today in England, after Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland introduced tightened rules yesterday amid a surge in cases of the Omicron virus.
Boris Johnson received his first comprehensive data briefing since before Christmas today, with a focus on hospitalisations in London where the Omicron variant has been most prevalent.
The meeting included the chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser.
The Prime Minister is facing pressure from his own backbench Conservative MPs not to go forward with new restrictions before more data showing whether Omicron will overwhelm the NHS becomes available.
While health is devolved in Wales any new restrictions or a lack of restrictions in England will have a knock on effect on restrictions here, as the money available from the UK Treasury to support businesses having to close in Wales would depend on similar restrictions being imposed over the border.
It is expected that Boris Johnson would need to announce any restrictions by tomorrow if he wanted time to ensure that they were legally binding before the New Year parties.
But today he only reiterated his message for the public in England to get a booster jab, saying: “There are over 1.5 million vaccination slots available to book in England in the coming days.
“We know two jabs don’t give you enough protection against Omicron so whether it’s your first, second or booster jab I urge you to book an appointment now.”
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already introduced some restrictions, including a ban of crowds at sporting events in Wales.
In Northern Ireland, as in Wales, nightclubs have been closed, table service is required in pubs and restaurants, and a maximum of six people can sit together at hospitality venues.
In Scotland, indoor events have been limited to 100 people standing or 200 people seated, and groups meeting inside must be limited to three households.
Yesterday Public Health Wales announced that there was now a total of 1,689 confirmed Omicron cases in the country.
Dr Chris Williams, Consultant Epidemiologist for Public Health Wales, said: “Public Health Wales is today (Sunday 26 December) confirming 304 new cases of Omicron variant in Wales, bringing us to a total of 1,689 cases.
“As we have indicated previously, a rapid increase over the coming days and weeks is expected.”