Families warned to limit socialising this Christmas amid Omicron spread

PEOPLE should not meet friends and family as much during the Christmas period, a gloomy top doc told Brits today.

Dr Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency, warned Brits not to socialise "when we don't particularly need to" to stem the spread of Omicron.

But Care Minister Gillian Keegan urged the public to hold its nerve and resist binning off festive plans.

Mounting concern over the Omicron super-strain – of which there are now 14 UK cases – has sparked fears of future restrictions.

Today face masks in shops and public transport become compulsory along with PCR tests for international arrivals.

The new restrictions came as:

  • Boris Johnson was set to hold a press conference this evening over the booster campaign
  • The number of Omicron variant cases rose to 14 following another three in Scotland
  • Head teachers were told to hold their nerve and not send kids home
  • Oxford scientists were confident our vaccines should beat the variant

Justifying the fresh curbs, Ms Keegan this morning said the government would rather "overreact than underreact" until the scientists were clear about the Omicron threat.

🔵 Read our Omicron variant live blog for the latest news

Dr Harries cautioned that even if our vaccines were effective against the mutant, it's infectiousness could have a "significant impact" on hospitals.

She told the BBC: "We've seen that not everybody has gone back to work and I'd like to think of it more in a general way, which is if we all decrease our social contacts a little bit, actually that helps to keep the variant at bay.

"So I think being careful, not socialising when we don't particularly need to and particularly going and getting those booster jobs which, of course, people will now be able to have at a three-month interval from their primary course."

Currently there are no restrictions on gatherings and the government has rejected calls to move to full-blown Plan B that would implement working from home.

Ms Keegan doubled down calls for Brits to get boosters by channelling festive hitmaker Mariah Carey: "All we want honestly for Christmas is for everyone to get jabbed."

She said the chances of having to isolate over Christmas were "pretty low" and that "of course Christmas is on track".

Grilled if school nativities should go ahead, she said: "Well, yes, I think we've said 'go about your plans'.

"I mean, obviously, you know, wear a mask, be cautious, you know, all the other… all the things that people usually put in place. To be honest, I think most people are being… have been sensible all along.

"But we're not saying to people cancel your plans. And you know, I'm sure it'd be lovely to go to a nativity play right now."

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