Omicron: Dominic Raab will not make 'hard and fast' guarantees on no more Covid rules before Christmas

A Cabinet Minister has refused to make “hard and fast” guarantees that there will be no more coronavirus restrictions introduced before Christmas.

By Caitlin Doherty
Monday, 20th December 2021, 9:08 am
A person receives a Covid-19 vaccination at Wembley Stadium in London, as the coronavirus booster vaccination programme is ramped up to an unprecedented pace of delivery, with every eligible adult in England being offered a top-up injection by the end of December.
A person receives a Covid-19 vaccination at Wembley Stadium in London, as the coronavirus booster vaccination programme is ramped up to an unprecedented pace of delivery, with every eligible adult in England being offered a top-up injection by the end of December.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Rabb insisted that this year’s festivities will be better than last as he refused to rule out more rules between now and the weekend.

However Boris Johnson is coming under increasing pressure to make a decision on restrictions amid stark warnings from scientists about the spread of Omicron, but there is also some fierce opposition from his on backbenchers.

Meanwhile, Labour are calling on the Government to “come out of hiding” and implement a “pathway to getting on top of the virus”.

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Speaking to Sky News this morning Mr Raab said: “We will have a much better Christmas than last year because of the vaccination level, both the overall vaccination level but particularly the impact of the booster campaign, and we saw on Saturday, just in one day, 900,000 people get their booster.

“I do think of course, you have heard it from the Health Secretary over the weekend, I’d echo that, people will need to be careful and cautious.

“I do think that again, subject to the data, and it’s always under review, we’re in a better position to enjoy Christmas with loved ones this year.”

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When asked if he could guarantee there will not be more restrictions between now and Christmas Day, Mr Raab said: “Well, I just can’t make hard and fast guarantees.”

Ministers have reportedly pushed back against calls from scientific advisers for new measures to tackle the Omicron variant before Christmas.

Mr Johnson has been presented with three options to tackle the spread of the virus, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The paper reported that they range from guidance asking people to limit indoor contacts, to rules on household mixing, social distancing and a curfew on pubs and restaurants, and thirdly a full lockdown.

The Telegraph quoted one unnamed Cabinet minister as saying data presented by Sir Patrick and England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty on Saturday was “just trashed by the Cabinet”.

The source said “guidelines, rather than restrictions, are entirely possible”

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said the Government has got to “come out of hiding” and “put in place that pathway to getting on top of the virus and the infection”.

Ms Reeves said people want the “advice and the knowledge” to know that they can spend Christmas with their families but do it in a “safe way”.

The news comes as Number 10 are facing fresh allegations of gatherings last year, after a photo emerged of Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie sat in the Downing Street garden alongside more than a dozen staff last May.The picture, published by The Guardian, shows the couple and 17 other staff members in the garden on May 15, 2020, with bottles of wine and a cheeseboard on a table in front of the PM.

No 10 has insisted work meetings often took place in the garden, and a leading human rights barrister said it is unlikely the gatherings broke the law.

But the photo was taken at a time when restrictions on meeting others were still in place.

Earlier on the same day, then health secretary Matt Hancock had told the daily coronavirus briefing: “People can now spend time outdoors and exercise as often as you like – and you can meet one other person from outside your household in an outdoor, public place. But please keep two metres apart.”

He added: “Please stick with the rules, keep an eye on your family and don’t take risks.”