Boris Johnson suggests country can 'ride out' Omicron Covid wave without further restrictions

Boris Johnson has appeared to rule out any further coronavirus measures in England for now, as he said that Plan B restrictions are seemingly sufficient to “ride out” the Omicron wave.

Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 5:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 5:36 pm

However, the Prime Minister warned that the country was still facing “a moment for the utmost caution” as case numbers reached a record 218,000 on Tuesday, and that “anyone who thinks our battle with Covid is over [..] is profoundly wrong”.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson praised the millions of people who have got a booster vaccination in recent weeks, and that they were one of the reasons rules would stay the same for now.

He told reporters: “Together with the Plan B measures that we introduced before Christmas, we have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again”.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to a vaccination hub in the Guttman Centre at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire on January 3

Mr Johnson went on: “As our NHS moves to a war footing, I will be recommending to Cabinet tomorrow that we continue with Plan B, because the public have responded and changed their behaviour, your behaviour, buying valuable time to get boosters in arms and help the NHS to cope with the Omicron wave.

“So please carry on observing those measures for now.”

Covid cases are continuing to surge across the country, with public services affected by staffing shortages as hundreds of thousands of people are testing positive each day.

In an attempt to reduce the disruption to essential infrastructure, Mr Johnson said the Government has identified 100,000 critical workers who will be offered daily lateral flow tests to help keep essential services open.

He told the news conference that staff working in areas such as food processing, transport and the Border Force would be sent test kits for every working day from January 10.

"We’ll be rolling out lateral flow testing for all these workers, available on every working day," he explained.

"We’ll be sending testing kits directly to these organisations and liaising with them on the logistics."

A further 218,724 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases have been recorded in England and Scotland as of 9am on Tuesday, the first time the figure has been over 200,000.

The Government also said a further 48 people had died in England within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.

Tuesday’s figures contain some delayed reporting of cases because of the holiday period.