This time last year Boris Johnson made a prediction for how things would be this Christmas and let’s just say his words seem pretty depressing now.
On 16 December 2020, on the day he moved London into tier 3 and two days before he said households should not mix at all on Christmas Day, the prime minister advised people to cut back on Christmas socialising but said things would be better in 2021. He said:
"Have yourselves a merry little Christmas, and I'm afraid this year I do mean little."
Boris Johnson says he hopes… https://t.co/qPfrRf6jFx
“But with the vaccine and all the other measures that we’re taking, we do know that things will be better in this country by Easter and I’m sure that next year Christmas will be as normal as usual for every family in the country.”
One year on, Christmas is not “as normal as usual for every family in the country.” The UK recorded 78,610 new Covid cases on Wednesday – the highest daily number reported since the start of the pandemic – and chief medical officer Chris Whitty has warned that one million people may be forced to isolate with the illness on Christmas Day, urging the public not to “mix with people you don’t have to”.
He said: “I think that what most people are doing is, and I would think this seems very sensible, is prioritising the social interactions that really matter to them and, to protect those ones, de-prioritising ones that matter much less to them.
“I think that’s going to become increasingly important as we, for example, go into the Christmas period.”
Regardless, Johnson reiterates his belief that Christmas will be “considerably better” than last year and said the government was not closing hospitality, cancelling parties or stopping people mixing with one another.
And we do have the vaccine, the booster jab rollout and better treatments, meaning hospitalisations and deaths are not at the levels they were last year – though Whitty warned people should not be complacent given that omicron appears to be far more transmissible than other variants so could create huge pressure on the NHS if it infects enough people.