UK Covid live: NHS faces ‘critical winter’, health minister says as colleague tells people to continue Christmas plans | World news


Britons were urged today to “stay calm and continue with their Christmas plans” – despite the UK having its highest cases since July.

Oliver Dowden, the chairman of the Conservative Party, said people should continue to go to pubs and restaurants because he claimed the government had so far taken “sufficient” action against the new Omicron variant.

“The message to people is quite simple, and that’s to stay calm, to carry on with your Christmas plans,” he told Sky News this morning. “We have the necessary restrictions in place, but beyond that, stay calm and carry on.”

The UK has recorded 42 cases of Omicron so far and yesterday reported its highest daily cases since July with 53,945 cases and 141 more deaths.

Oliver Dowden, the chairman of the Conservative Party, on ITV’s Good Morning Britain this morning. Photograph: ITV / REX / Shutterstock

Dowden’s comments echo those of the Prime Minister yesterday, who said in an interview that people should not cancel the Christmas holidays. “The most important thing is that people follow the advice we have given,” he said in a joint interview. “People shouldn’t cancel things. There is no need for that at all. This is not what we are saying.

So far, the government has responded to the new variant by reintroducing face mask requirements and tightening self-isolation rules and travel restrictions.

Responding to criticism from the hospitality industry of the government’s mixed messages, Dowden insisted the government was not discouraging people from going out.

“We haven’t changed the advice about who is involved in hospitality – so going to the pub, going to a restaurant, etc.,” he said.

“And in fact, I think most pubs and restaurants until recently have done really well during this season and we’re not discouraging people from doing that.”

While he said he was “confident” that this Christmas would be better than the last, he urged people to get a Covid booster when they are eligible.

He said:

All of our advice is based on scientific evidence and indeed the Chief Medical Officer [Professor Chris Whitty] and senior scientific advisor [Sir Patrick Vallance] attending Cabinet and were in Cabinet when we discussed this earlier this week.

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