BORIS Johnson today urged Brits to be "cautious" about how they choose to celebrate New Year's Eve as the Omicron variant continues to spread.
Ministers are keen to avoid a miserable January lockdown – which could see the loathed Rule of Six or a ban on indoor pints reintroduced country-wide.
Brits have been advised to take regular lateral flow tests, socialise outdoors, isolate when necessary and get boosted NOW.
The advice follows a string of hugely positive studies which showed Omicron IS milder than other strains – with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
And there are other easy steps – in addition to regular hand washing – that ALL Brits can take to make sure the country stays lockdown-free.
Get boosted NOW
The most important way to keep Omicron at bay is by getting a booster jab.
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Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced on Monday that there would be no new lockdown rules ahead of January 1.
But he urged Brits to get jabbed before mingling in New Year's Eve parties – saying it's "never been more easy" to get the vaccination.
Follow our Omicron Covid live blog for all the latest news & stories
He said: "While there is still a lot of uncertainty around this new variant, we do know that our very best form of defence is vaccination.
"Sadly when we look at the latest hospital admissions, a disproportionate number of those people are unvaccinated, and when you look at those requiring the most intensive care, even more are unvaccinated."
His stark reminder was echoed by the PM today, who insisted that the UK's soaring vaccine numbers are the reason why England can afford a rule-free December.
He begged the unvaccinated few to get their first, second or booster jabs NOW to ward off lockdown post-January 1 – as Omicron cases continue to soar.
Speaking on a visit to a vaccine centre this morning, the PM insisted: "We're able to proceed in the way that we are.
GET JABBED NOW
"But there is one reason, and one reason only why we're able to do that.
"And that's because such a huge proportion of the British public have come forward to get vaccinated and particularly to get boosted.
"We've done about 32.5 million booster jabs – maybe more.
"And that is allowing us to celebrate the New Year in the cautious way that we are."
Asked how England has escaped the same post-Christmas Covid crackdown hitting Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the PM said the incredible jab rollout is to thank.
But he stressed that more jabs in arms are needed to "really finish off that work" going into 2022.
He also warned that up to 90 per cent of people in intensive care with Covid are unjabbed or without a booster.
Wear your mask
Following a rule change earlier this month, face coverings are mandatory again in most indoor settings.
This includes on all public transport, in supermarkets and in beauty salons.
Settings that are exempt from face coverings include:
- Restaurants, cafés and canteens
- Bars and shisha bars
- Gyms and exercise facilities
- Photography studios
- Nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques
- Take a lateral flow test before parties
Get tested regularly
Health ministers have urged New Year's Eve revellers to take a Covid test before welcoming in 2022 with friends and family to avoid unknowingly spreading Omicron.
Party-ready Brits are advised to take a test "before they go out".
Minister have also urged Brits to gather with friends and family outdoors or in "well-ventilated areas".
Health minister Gillian Keegan yesterday told Sky News: "We've always said act cautiously since this new variant came amongst us and is highly infectious.
"Many people will know somebody who has caught this over the Christmas period.
"So do be cautious. Take a lateral flow test before you go out. Go to well-ventilated areas. I've been to a couple of outdoor parties actually.
In other Covid-19 news:
- Four key Omicron numbers that could spark more restrictions and what they are right now;
- Has Omicron already peaked in London? Capital’s cases began to flatten a week before Christmas;
- Those who missed Christmas due to Covid could miss New Year’s Eve too despite isolation cut due to lateral flow shortage;
- Thousands of Scots prepare to cross the border on New Year’s Eve to escape Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid clampdown;
- UK daily Covid cases hit record high with 129,471 positive tests – but deaths fall to 18;
- Third of cancer patients are waiting more than two months to receive treatment;
- Travel bosses are demanding an end to expensive Covid tests for Brits returning from holidays as Omicron "has already spread".
"People have moved things to outside so just be cautious. But you know, do try to enjoy yourself as well. But cautiously."
Her warnings repeated those of the Health Secretary.
Mr Javid stressed Brits should "remain cautious", take a lateral flow and celebrate outside or in a well-ventilated room.
There is no cap on the number of people allowed to gather for New Year's eve.
Some experts advised limiting social contacts before Christmas, but the same guidance has not made a come back.
Isolate if you need to
Those who tested positive for Covid-19 previously had to isolate at home for ten days following the start of symptoms or after a positive test result.
But just last week, this number was slashed to seven days in order to save Christmas gatherings and limit damage to the economy.
Ministers have announced that people need two negative lateral flow tests – the first on day six and the second 24 hours later – in order to leave quarantine.
But they will be urged to limit contact, wear face masks in public and work from home if they can.
If you live in the same house as someone who has tested positive, you need to isolate too, unless you are fully vaccinated, under 18, part of a vaccine trial or are legally exempt from getting a jab.
Fully vaccinated means two doses of the jab.
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