Fri. Feb 3rd, 2023


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Christmas ‘will not be cancelled’, says PM

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But yesterday he insisted it is “very much not the plan” to shut the country down with another nightmare festive lockdown. The PM said the Government’s winter Covid plan is holding firm and that the priority is now to give booster jabs to the elderly and vulnerable. His remarks will come as a relief to millions of families who had their Christmas plans dashed last year. Tough new measures were imposed across England after the emergence of the Kent variant. Christmas was effectively cancelled in Tier 4 areas while very limited festive bubbles were allowed elsewhere. Wales and Scotland faced similar laws.

But Mr Johnson now says the vaccine rollout should keep Covid at a manageable level and there will not be repeat of last year’s disappointment.

In New York for the UN General Assembly, he said: “I just want to go back to what I said about Plan A and Plan B. You remember the difference between Plan A and Plan B? Plan A is what we’re on, and Plan B is what we might have to do.

“It’s a graduated series of steps and we certainly don’t want or expect to have to do anything like last Christmas.” Asked if may be cancelled again, he added: “That is very much not the plan.”

Mr Johnson unveiled plans for tackling over the autumn and winter in England earlier this month.

Plan A – including booster jabs, giving the vaccine to 12 to 15-year-olds and persuading stragglers to take the vaccine – aims to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed.

The more-relaxed approach also maintains the testing regime, tracing of cases and self-isolation for those who catch the virus. Businesses will also be encouraged to consider using the NHS Covid Pass to check the vaccination or test status of customers.

Plan B would swing into action if the health service came under “unsustainable pressure”.

It could include the return of compulsory masks in some settings and the introduction of vaccine passports.

Guidance on working from home may also be issued.

Mr Johnson insisted that the booster programme must now be “our priority” rather than sending more coronavirus vaccines to poorer nations struggling to roll out jabs.

He defended the “huge contributions” Britain has made by donating vaccines to developing nations as booster invites were being sent out to 1.5 million people in England this week.

He added: “But if you ask me, should we interrupt the booster programme for elderly and vulnerable people in this country?

“Well, I’ve looked at the evidence for what boosters can do, I’ve looked at the extra protection it can give people, and I have to say I think that has to be our priority and we’re going to continue to do that.

“But that doesn’t mean we’re not making also a massive commitment to the rest of the world.

“Because we fundamentally agree that nobody’s safe until everybody is safe.”

Under the programme, those eligible for boosters include anyone aged 50 and over, people living and working in care homes for the elderly, and frontline health and social care workers.

The clinically extremely vulnerable and anyone aged 16 to 65 in an at-risk group for Covid will also be eligible.

Yesterday a further 36,100 infections were reported and 49 deaths.

A total 89.4 percent of the over-16s have had their first jab, 81.8 percent have had both.

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