The 3 options Boris Johnson is considering to limit Omicron
What options are being considered?
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Under the plans, option one would see families in England asked to limit the number of people they meet indoors over the festive period, without legal enforcement.
The second option would mandate restrictions on household mixing, as well as see the return of social distancing and an 8pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.
Option three would be the strictest of all and would see a full, country-wide lockdown imposed.
However, ministers have reportedly resisted calls from scientific advisers to introduce new Covid-19 measures before Christmas.
The latest data released on Sunday (19 December) shows that confirmed cases of the Omicron variant have increased by more than 12,000 in the UK, with cases in London alone topping 10,000.
But it is understood that around one third of the Cabinet are reluctant to support new restrictions in the coming days, including Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, according to The Times.
The paper reported that 10 ministers are resisting a call by the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance at the weekend for new restrictions to be brought in as soon as possible to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed.
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”, but the source warned that “guidelines, rather than restrictions, are entirely possible”.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that new Covid-19 measures before Christmas have not been ruled out and warned there are “no guarantees” following a “sobering analysis” from scientific advisers.
Despite the current acceleration of the booster vaccination programme, experts said it would not help in terms of hospital admissions in the near future, as many would be people who are infected before immunity has had time to build.
A record 830,403 boosters were given in England on Saturday (18 December), but a rate of around one million a day is needed if every adult is to be offered a top-up jab by the end of the year.
The Omicron variant now accounts for around 80% of infections in London, according to Mr Javid, and about 60% in England.
Asked about ruling out new coronavirus measures before Christmas, the Health Secretary said there is still “a lot of uncertainty”, but now is the “time to be more cautious”.
He told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: “There are no guarantees in this pandemic, I don’t think.
“At this point we just have to keep everything under review.”