Boris Johnson has delayed introducing further coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England as he sticks with Plan B ‘ride out’ the Omicron surge despite being warned that the NHS is under significant pressure.
In an announcement a Downing Street on Tuesday evening, the Prime Minister urged people in England to stick to current guidance which includes work-from-home guidance, mask-wearing and the use of Covid health passes.
What did Boris Johnson say in his Covid update?
Updating the public on Tuesday evening the Prime Minister said the latest record Covid case figures showed that those who believed the pandemic to be over were “profoundly wrong”.
Speaking at a press briefing in Downing Street, he said: “Our United Kingdom is in the midst of the fastest growth in Covid cases that we’ve ever known.
“Previous waves of the pandemic didn’t have a single day with more than 100,000 new cases reported, one day last week we had 200,000 people test positive.
“And the latest figure today is another 218,000, though that includes some delayed reports.
“So anyone who thinks our battle with Covid is over, I’m afraid is profoundly wrong.
“This is a moment for the utmost caution.”
While further extra restrictions were not announced today Mr Johnson did not rule them out completely, however he did say there was a “chance” extra restrictions would not be needed in England.
Mr Johnson said the UK Government has identified 100,000 critical workers, in areas such as food processing, transport and the Border Force, who will be offered daily lateral flow tests to help keep essential services open.
Chief medical officer for England Professor Sir Chris Whitty also urged anyone who had not yet received a booster to come forward for their jabs.
He added that lower rates of people being admitted to hospital did not mean there were not “significant numbers” of people in hospital with Covid.
Do Boris Johnson’s updates apply to Scotland?
No, the Scottish Government handles decisions around coronavirus restrictions north of the border.
Here, new limits on large public gatherings forced the cancellation of New Year’s Eve street parties, for the second year, including the one planned for Edinburgh which attracts tens of thousands of people.
Hogmanay street parties across Scotland were cancelled, with crowds at outdoor public events capped at 500 since Boxing Day, for at least three weeks, and numbers at indoor public events limited to 100 standing or 200 seated.
When is Nicola Sturgeon’s next Covid update?
Nicola Sturgeon will tomorrow update MSPs on the coronavirus situation in Scotland.
Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone has confirmed that Holyrood, despite still being in recess, will set on Wednesday for “an update and questions on Covid”, adding that the session “will be entirely virtual”.
It is not yet known if any changes to public health rules will be made.
Speaking to BBC’s Good Morning Scotland last week, Professor Jason Leitch failed to rule out further restrictions.
How do Scotland and England’s restrictions differ?
Current restrictions in place differ across the UK such as self-isolation periods.
In Scotland, the full self-isolation period for those who have caught Covid-19 or have been identified as a household close contacts remains a full ten days, while in England it has been shorted to seven days for those who test positive for coronavirus but receive negative lateral flow test results on day six and seven of their isolation period.
Events have one-metre social distancing and are limited to 100 people standing indoors, 200 people sitting indoors and 500 people outdoors.
One-metre physical distancing is in place in all indoor hospitality and leisure settings.
Table service is also required where alcohol is being served.
Since December 14, people have been asked to reduce their social contacts as much as possible by meeting in groups of no more than three households.
Allowing staff to work from home where possible has become a legal duty on employers.
Care home visits have also been limited to two households.
England had the most relaxed rules in the UK for New Year celebrations although Covid passes for entry into nightclubs and other venues have been in place since December 15.
Face coverings have also been made compulsory in most indoor public settings, as well as on public transport, and people have been told to work from home if they can.