After Boris Johnson missed yesterday’s COBRA meeting, he is set to hold an emergency one today to discuss new restrictions.
The Daily Star reports that the meeting will ‘likely decide the fate of the country over the next four to six weeks’ as discussions on potential restrictions to be brought in as a response to the rise of the Omicron variant of coronavirus are on the cards.
The government’s scientific experts have said it is ‘almost certain’ the UK will see hundreds of thousands of Omicron infections per day and that restrictions tougher than the current ‘Plan B’ measures in place must be used in order to stop hospital admissions from spiking too high and putting more strain on the NHS.
Possible measures to be discussed include a ban on household mixing and the temporary closure of non-essential shops and hospitality venues, essentially meaning another lockdown could be on the cards.
The timing of restrictions will also be considered as the BBC reports that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has warned ministers that leaving any restrictions until the new year would ‘greatly reduce the effectiveness of such interventions’ and ‘make it less likely that these would prevent considerable pressure on health and care settings’.
Health secretary Sajid Javid has warned there are ‘no guarantees’ that Christmas gatherings will be allowed this year, though The Star says it is more likely that new restrictions would be put in place after Christmas.
The UK detected 82,886 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, up 72% from the 48,071 cases recorded a week before.
Also absent from yesterday’s COBRA meeting, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is said to be waiting for a final decision on new restrictions to be made before announcing any financial support package for businesses which will be hit by closures and lack of demand, reports The Guardian.
If further restrictions are needed then parliament will have to be recalled to vote on them.
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