It has been reported that the government is considering closing pubs in England, or adding restrictions on numbers by Christmas day, which could put a stop to New Year’s celebrations. The news comes as Plan B rules to stop the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid are to be voted on in Parliament today.
MPs will take four votes to decide whether Plan B rules can go ahead, which include Covid Passports for nightclubs. Tougher rules are expected to follow within days, as the Government has been told it has until the 18th December to act or risk the NHS being overwhelmed, Hull Live reports.
According to The Sun, the government are looking to go even further before Christmas. One MP told The Guardian: “These restrictions are the gateway drug to more serious restrictions down the line. I think we’ll be on Plan X, Y or Z by Christmas.”
A government source told The Sun: “You will be able to see your family at Christmas, but at this rate, you might not be able to do it in a pub. As for New Year’s Eve, that is a different story.”
According to The Mail: “Whitehall officials have drawn up proposals to limit the number of people allowed in pubs and restaurants across the country.”
If the Prime Minister closes the hospitality industry to tackle the new Omnicron variant, businesses will be supported, The Times reports.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said we will be able to ‘enjoy’ Christmas in a way we couldn’t last year, but has not ruled out further measures being considered for Christmas or New Year, saying: “These issues are always discussed but we have got Plan B, that’s what we think is required over the Christmas period.”
Asked about the possibility of new restrictions in pubs and restaurants such as capacity limits, he said: “These issues are always discussed” but “We have got Plan B, that’s what we think is required over the Christmas period.”
As MPs are set to vote on Plan B today, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said he is ‘not aware of any plans for further restrictions’. One person has died who was infected with the Omicron variant, although it is unclear whether they have underlying health concerns or were vaccinated Metro reports. There is a reported 4,713 confirmed cases of it across the UK, but the health secretary Sajid Javid fears there could be around 200,000 cases.
Every adult is said to be getting the booster jab in the next two weeks after the Government has ramped up efforts to roll out the booster. Experts have warned it will put the NHS under enormous pressure.