LONDON — England will not face any further COVID-19 restrictions this side of Christmas, Boris Johnson announced Tuesday.
“In view of the continuing uncertainty about several things – the severity of Omicron, uncertainty about the hospitalization rate or the impact of the vaccine rollout or the boosters, we don’t think today that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas,” the U.K. prime minister said in a video message posted on his Twitter account.
“The situation remains extremely difficult but I also recognize that people have been waiting to hear whether their Christmas plans are going to be affected,” Johnson said.
The U.K. leader has been under pressure to provide clarity on restrictions after a marathon meeting with his top team on Monday ended without movement on COVID curbs. His own MPs last week mounted a bruising House of Commons rebellion against a tightening of virus restrictions.
Johnson said he could not rule out any further measures after Christmas, vowing the government would “do whatever it takes to protect public health.”
He urged people to “exercise caution,” but said Christmas plans should go ahead even though the situation remains “finely balanced.”
And Johnson implored the public to wear masks indoors when required to do so, keep fresh air circulating, and take a test before visiting elderly or vulnerable relatives.
The latest U.K.-wide data shows 615,707 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the U.K. over the past seven days, a 63 percent rise on the previous week.
The move to avoid further curbs before Christmas comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a package of support for businesses hit by falling demand as Britain grapples with the Omicron variant.