What Covid restrictions are reportedly being considered to stop the spread of Omicron?

What Covid restrictions are reportedly being considered to stop the spread of Omicron?

Rumours that the government could introduce new measures to deal with the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus have surfaced today.

Numerous publications have said ministers are considering tougher measures to curb the fast-spreading variant with reports that plans are being drawn up for a two-week “circuit breaker” after Christmas.

In the past, measures to deal with coronavirus have ranged from advising people to cut social plans to full lockdown so what is reported to be on the cards now?

Here’s everything we know so far:

What measures are being considered?

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An outdoor table at a pubPA Wire

According to the Times, ministers are due “imminently” to present draft regulations that would mean England returning to restrictions last seen in April.

If you remember “Step 2” of spring’s roadmap out of lockdown, this could mean no indoor mixing (except for work) for two weeks after Christmas, with pubs and restaurants only open outside to groups of six.

Schools and shops would remain open. Shielding for the most vulnerable would return and weddings and funerals would be limited to 15 to 30 people.

The BBC has also seen leaked minutes from SAGE saying the government should introduce “more stringent measures” if they want to prevent “at least” 3,000 hospital admissions a day and said “the timing of such measures is crucial” to reduce pressure on the NHS.

Meanwhile,The Financial Times reported that Johnson was presented with a number of options on Friday under a so-called plan C, ranging from “mild guidance to nudge people, right through to lockdown”.

When would the measures be implemented?

Some of the Times’ sources said parliament may be recalled next week to debate the restrictions, and suggested they could be implemented from 27 or 28 December 27.

What has the government said?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson Visits Uxbridge ConstituencyGetty Images

The Times reported that Boris Johnson has not approved the plans, and on Friday he said he was not “closing things down”.

He has also called a Cobra meeting this weekend with the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in response to the rising cases of the variant.

Meanwhile, in a press briefing on Thursday, chief medical officer Chris Whitty ruffled feathers when he suggested people prioritise social events, appearing to go further than government advice.

How have people reacted?

Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, said their findings suggest Omicron poses a major threat to public health (Parliament TV/PA)PA Media

Victor Adebowale, the chairman of the NHS Confederation, spoke out in support of a circuit breaker on Times Radio. He said: “I would support the circuit breaker. My members would support the circuit breaker.

“We’ve been calling for plan B for some time now and we’re glad that it was voted through. I think the government has to be prepared to recall parliament if further interventions are needed.”

He described the leaked modelling by Sage as “very worrying”.

He said: “The fact of the matter is we should be taking the precautionary principle. We should be protecting our NHS and our public services. We have no economy without health.”

Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, said: “Time is of the essence. I think if we are going to make additional decisions . . . they probably will need to be made in the next week or two to have a substantial impact.”

How many people have coronavirus and what are hospitalisation and death figures like?

According to the government’s latest figures, there were 93,045 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK as of 9am on Friday – the highest daily total since the beginning of the pandemic, and a rise of 4,669 on the previous record set on Thursday.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 is 7,611 and 111 died with it on Friday.

Despite some apparent ministerial confusion, the number of people with Omicron specifically in hospital was last reported as 85 and so far seven deaths has been reported.

How is the booster jab rollout getting on?

The UK reported more than 90,000 new Covid cases in another record daily total on Friday (Kirsty O\u2019Connor/PA)PA Wire

Half of adults in the UK have now had a booster dose after Johnson took to national television to tell the nation to “get boosted now”.

Huge queues formed at numerous vaccine centres in the last week after the PM said anyone over the age of 18 who had had their second dose of the vaccine at least three months ago could go for round three and said that doing so would be the best way to beat the variant.

What happens next is a matter for time to decide.

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