News

Covid Christmas: BA passengers face baggage delays while ITV cancels Good Morning Britain

Covid staff shortages are today bringing Britain to a grinding halt, sparking huge disruption for airline passengers, shutting key attractions and taking one of the nation’s best-known TV shows off air. 

Staffing shortages at BA – blamed on Covid and self-isolation rules – have today caused pre-Christmas travel ‘chaos’ at Heathrow Airport.

The shortages, combined with weather-enforced delays, have resulted in cancelled flights, queues at the border and a sea of stranded luggage strewn across baggage reclaim.

It comes as London’s Natural History Museum and Edinburgh Castle have both had to shut due to a surge in Covid cases among staff.

And today, in an unprecedented move, ITV revealed its flagship show Good Morning Britain has been cancelled between Christmas and New Year. 

Bosses of the channel say there will be no episodes aired of the breakfast show between Wednesday, December 29 and Friday, December 31 ‘due to the pandemic’.

A string of West End shows, including the Lion King, have also been forced to cancel pre-Christmas performances due to Covid, with a number of cast and crew testing positive in recent days.

The UK’s staffing shortages come as ministers are today considering slashing the quarantine period for people who test positive for Covid from ten to seven days. 

Health experts, MPs and business leaders have called for a change, warning that the current rules risk crippling healthcare and the economy.  

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is holding an emergency meeting of his Cabinet this afternoon as he decides whether to impose new coronavirus curbs before Christmas.

The Prime Minister convened a virtual meeting of his top team at 2pm as he faced a growing Cabinet revolt over a potential further crackdown to slow the spread of Omicron.

Yesterday confirmed cases of the variant yesterday rose by nearly 50 per cent to 37,000 in just 24 hours, with London the worst-hit area, sparking the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan to declare a ‘major incident’.

In other coronavirus developments:

  • The operator of the Real Greek and Franco Manca restaurant chains has urged Chancellor Rishi Sunak to announce further support for businesses ‘in the next 24 hours’. 
  • Labour shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said that businesses need more support to get them through the difficult months ahead. 
  • Patricia Marquis, England director at the Royal College of Nursing, said it is looking like a ‘very bleak picture’ for nursing staff over the next few weeks. 
  • Professor Carl Heneghan, director of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University and a GP, said ‘we are in deep, deep trouble of potentially talking ourselves into annual lockdowns’. 
  • Mr Raab said 12 people have now died with the Omicron variant but could not say how many of those were vaccinated.

Today, in an unprecedented move, ITV announced it has cancelled flagship show Good Morning Britain between Christmas and New Year

It comes as London's Natural History Museum (pictured) and Edinburgh Castle have had to shut due to a surge in Covid cases among staff

It comes as London’s Natural History Museum (pictured) and Edinburgh Castle have had to shut due to a surge in Covid cases among staff

BA passengers are today facing pre-Christmas travel 'chaos' at Heathrow Airport with cancelled flights, queues at the border and a sea of stranded luggage strewn across baggage reclaim

Astonishing pictures and video show unattended suitcases scattered around conveyor belts at Heathrow's Terminal 5 last night, with one passenger describing it as 'complete chaos'

BA passengers are today facing pre-Christmas travel ‘chaos’ at Heathrow Airport with cancelled flights, queues at the border and a sea of stranded luggage strewn across baggage reclaim.

Covid Christmas: BA passengers face baggage delays while ITV cancels Good Morning Britain

Covid Christmas: BA passengers face baggage delays while ITV cancels Good Morning Britain

The number of confirmed cases of Omicron in England increased by 69 per cent on the previous day's total - up 9,427 to 23,168, figures from the UKHSA showed today

The number of confirmed cases of Omicron in England increased by 69 per cent on the previous day’s total – up 9,427 to 23,168, figures from the UKHSA showed today

It comes as ITV today announced it is axing GMB’s Christmas live shows due to concerns over Covid. The show, which has been broadcast weekday mornings on ITV since 2016, was scheduled to be broadcast between Christmas and New Year. 

But today bosses announced they had  decided to pull the mid-Christmas shows. It comes just days after one of its presenters, Sean Fletcher, tested positive for Covid,

A spokesperson for ITV told MailOnline: ‘GMB was due to be on air from Wednesday 29 December to  Friday 31 December but due to the pandemic and to protect our teams, we have decided to give them an extended break.

ITV axes Good Morning Britain between Christmas and New Year due to Covid concerns 

ITV has today announced it is axing Good Morning Britain’s Christmas live shows due to concerns over Covid.

The show, which has been broadcast weekday mornings on ITV since 2016, was scheduled to be broadcast between Christmas and New Year.

But today bosses announced they had  decided to pull the mid-Christmas shows. It comes just days after one of its presenters, Sean Fletcher, tested positive for Covid,

A spokesperson for ITV told MailOnline: ‘GMB was due to be on air from Wednesday 29 December to  Friday 31 December but due to the pandemic and to protect our teams, we have decided to give them an extended break.

‘GMB will not broadcast next week, but will be back on air on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.’ 

According to the Sun, staff at the show have agreed to ‘gingerly soldier on until the end of this week’ with the planned broadcasts.

However presenters of the show, which features regular host such as Susanna Reid, Charlotte Hawkins and Kate Garroway and temporary anchors such as Adil Ray and Richard Madeley, have reportedly been asked to do their own make-up.

There will also be tight controls on who can and cannot enter the GMB set, based at Television Studios in White City, London.   

A TV source told the Sun: ‘This is all but unheard of, to lose a whole week of a flagship show like this.

‘It just shows how alarmed everyone is within the network and on the show itself.

‘We even aired throughout the height of the pandemic, but lately it is becoming near impossible with staffing shortages and fears about the Christmas period being derailed for everyone.

The final pre-Christmas shows will go ahead, while the Christmas Day episode, which has been pre-recorded, will also be broadcast.

The announcement comes after presenter Sean Fletcher has revealed he had tested positive for Covid earlier this week.

The TV star shared the news with his Instagram followers on Sunday afternoon with a photograph of his positive Covid test.

‘GMB will not broadcast next week, but will be back on air on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.’ 

According to The Sun, staff at the show have agreed to ‘gingerly soldier on until the end of this week’ with the planned broadcasts.

However presenters of the show, which features regular host such as Susanna Reid, Charlotte Hawkins and Kate Garroway and temporary anchors such as Adil Ray and Richard Madeley, have reportedly been asked to do their own make-up.

There will also be tight controls on who can and cannot enter the GMB set, based at Television Studios in White City, London.   

A TV source told the Sun: ‘This is all but unheard of, to lose a whole week of a flagship show like this.

‘It just shows how alarmed everyone is within the network and on the show itself.

‘We even aired throughout the height of the pandemic, but lately it is becoming near impossible with staffing shortages and fears about the Christmas period being derailed for everyone.

The final pre-Christmas shows will go ahead, while the Christmas Day episode, which has been pre-recorded, will also be broadcast.

Meanwhile, at least five national attractions have had to close because of the surge in Covid cases. The Natural History Museum, in South Kensington, will be closed from Tuesday ‘due to an unforeseen staff shortage’.

The Natural History Museum, the second most visited museum in the UK, said it would remain closed for at least a week. 

The National Army Museum in Chelsea, the Wellcome Collection in Euston and the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury have also all announced they will close.

The British Museum will remain open, but has warned that some galleries may have to close at short notice.

Meanwhile, Royal Mail today warned customers that it may have to shut down six-day deliveries in some areas ahead of the busy Christmas period, due to a Covid.

The post firm had last week warned of disruption to deliveries in areas such as Bristol, Exeter and Chelmsford due to a shortage of staff and an increase in work load.

A Royal Mail spokesperson told MailOnline today: ‘Deliveries are operating as normal across most of the country. 

‘We aim to deliver to all addresses we have mail for, six days a week. 

‘In a small number of local offices this may temporarily not be possible due to local issues such as COVID-related self-isolation, higher than usual levels of sick absence, resourcing or other local factors. 

‘We are providing targeted support to the local offices affected by these issues and we apologise to customers for any inconvenience they may have experienced. Our staff are continuing to work incredibly hard, as they have done throughout the pandemic. We are thankful for all of their efforts and determination at the busiest time of year for the business.” 

It comes as delays struck again yesterday at Heathrow, with BA chiefs blaming fog on Sunday morning for setting back their flight schedule.

Airline bosses said flights had to be delayed or cancelled due to bad visibility, causing huge delays throughout the day and into last night.

And they say this was made worse due to a wave of Covid related sickness and staff being forced to self-isolate.

MailOnline understand the delays became so bad at one point that passengers were told to go home and leave their baggage at the airport to be collected by BA staff and sent to their address.

This resulted in a sea of unclaimed baggage building up beside the conveyor belts before it was pulled together and moved to a safe location. 

Astonishing pictures and video show unattended suitcases scattered around conveyor belts at Heathrow's Terminal 5 last night, with one passenger describing it as 'complete chaos'

Astonishing pictures and video show unattended suitcases scattered around conveyor belts at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 last night, with one passenger describing it as ‘complete chaos’

At least half a dozen BA flights from the west-London airport have been cancelled today, while pictures show long lines of people queuing for Border Control at Heathrow

BA chiefs have blamed a combination of fog and staffing shortages due to Covid for the delays

At least half a dozen BA flights from the west-London airport have been cancelled today, while pictures show long lines of people queuing for Border Control at Heathrow. BA chiefs have blamed a combination of fog and staffing shortages due to Covid for the delays.

Heathrow passengers also took to Twitter to share photographs of people queuing in the corridors waiting to get through to Passport Control

Heathrow passengers also took to Twitter to share photographs of people queuing in the corridors waiting to get through to Passport Control

Queue chaos at Manchester Airport: Hundreds of passengers are forced to wait for ‘three hours’

Passengers flying from Manchester Airport to Spain were forced to wait in crammed lines for more than three hours with ‘no social distancing or air conditioning’.

Ian Gold was due to fly with his wife, and their two daughters but their flight was delayed due to the ‘infuriating’ situation at the airport.

He said seven of ten security gates were closed and only one boarding pass was open, resulting in the queues ‘growing and growing’ up to more than 1,000 people.

Mr Gold blamed the issues on ‘staff shortages’ and said people in the queue were talking about cuts that had been made at the airport.

Manchester Airport has lost almost 500 members of its workforce to redundancy over the past 12 months due to plummeting passenger numbers as a result of the pandemic and the associated travel restrictions.

A spokesman for the airport told MailOnline said the longer security queues were due to a ‘greater number of passengers than expected, and a higher-than-usual rate of staff absence’.

Passengers travelling to Spain from the UK are currently required to fill in and sign an online health control form and must show a QR code, generated from the form, on arrival at a Spanish airport.

Tourists to Spain must show proof they have received at least two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, while EU citizens or those accompanying EU citizens may present alternative documentation to a vaccine certificate.

One passenger to pass through the airport yesterday, Nicola Woods, who was travelling from Heathrow to Edinburgh, told MailOnline: ‘I flew yesterday with BA and it was chaos. Several flights were cancelled. 

‘My flight was meant to leave at 6.30pm but was pushed back and pushed back so didn’t leave until 8.30pm.

‘Once we landed we were told that none of our cases had been put on the plane. 

‘The passenger next to me had his flight to Inverness cancelled so had taken the Edinburgh flight and was planning to take a train to finally pick up his car and drive home. 

‘Still no word from BA as to when we can expected our cases.’

Some passengers however told MailOnline that their baggage had been lost. One passenger travelling into Heathrow last night took to Twitter to share his experience.  

Jack Lawrence, a  biomedical science masters student, wrote on Twitter: ‘Big queues to get out of the airport for those whose flights have been cancelled too. 

‘Apparently luggage from all the cancelled flights is also all being chucked on the same luggage carousel. There’s so much chaos with bags – both from cancelled and actual flights that British airways is now suggesting people go home and submit a missing baggage claim.’ 

Others also described the situation as ‘complete chaos’. Natalia Kaliada said on Twitter: ‘Complete chaos at Heathrow. Massive delays of getting the luggage.

‘No system in place. People are strongly advised to leave without their luggage. Christmas Vibe!’

Another passenger wrote: ‘BA – Just started our honeymoon and our bags are stuck at Heathrow, your customer service phone line is not open and the missing bag reporting system will only let us log a report for one of our bags.’ 

Meanwhile, BA flights to Malaga, Barcelona, Glasgow and Amsterdam from Heathrow have been cancelled today.

One flight to Germany, which yesterday introduced a travel ban for UK tourists, has also been cancelled. 

A spokesperson for BA told MailOnline: ‘We’ve apologised to customers whose flights were cancelled due to operational constraints. 

Covid Christmas: BA passengers face baggage delays while ITV cancels Good Morning Britain

Covid Christmas: BA passengers face baggage delays while ITV cancels Good Morning Britain

Covid Christmas: BA passengers face baggage delays while ITV cancels Good Morning Britain

Covid Christmas: BA passengers face baggage delays while ITV cancels Good Morning Britain

Covid Christmas: BA passengers face baggage delays while ITV cancels Good Morning Britain

Covid Christmas: BA passengers face baggage delays while ITV cancels Good Morning Britain

It comes as astonishing pictures and video show dozens of unattended suitcases scattered around conveyor belts at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 last night, with one passenger describing it as ‘complete chaos’. 

Some passengers were even told to go home and leave their luggage at the airport – and have it sent to their address – instead of facing long waits to get their bags.

Meanwhile, at least half a dozen BA flights from the west-London airport have been cancelled today. Pictures show long lines of people queuing for Passport Control at Heathrow, which is operated by the UK’s Border Force.

New push to cut ten-day Covid isolation period to a week after experts warn that current rules could cripple the economy 

Ministers are considering slashing the quarantine period for people who test positive for Covid from ten to seven days.

As reported in Saturday’s Daily Mail, health experts, MPs and business leaders have called for a change, warning that the current rules risk crippling healthcare and the economy.

Anyone who is infected with the virus must isolate for ten days after first developing symptoms or testing positive.

 But the ‘blunt tool’ fails to account for infectiousness and is fuelling ‘lockdown by stealth’ by keeping so many people at home.

Now it has emerged that modelling by government scientific advisers indicates it would be possible to reduce the isolation period without having a significant impact on infection rates if people had a negative test before they were released.

Sources say the change in policy is ‘being looked at’ to stop the country grinding to a halt.

It even has the backing of Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, whose doom-laden forecasts prompted previous lockdown measures.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday how he would feel about reducing quarantine to seven days, Professor Ferguson said: ‘All the modelling and analysis would suggest if it’s coupled with lateral- flow testing it’s not going to reduce the effectiveness of the measure that much.’

BA chiefs have blamed a combination of fog and staffing shortages due to Covid for the delays and bag issues, but said its staff are working ‘extremely hard’ to fix the issues. 

Heathrow meanwhile say baggage in Terminal 5, which is exclusively used by BA and its sister airline Iberia, is the responsibility of BA.

The ‘chaos’ comes at one of the busiest times for air travel, with tens thousands of people making their way to the UK to be with their families for Christmas.

It also comes as passengers into Manchester Airport yesterday faced delays of up to three hours in crammed lines for more than three hours with ‘no social distancing or air conditioning’.  

‘Our teams are working extremely hard to get our customers rebooked and on their way as quickly as possible.’

There also reportedly delays at Border Control, with pictures last night showing long queues on the approach to passport control.

One passenger wrote: ‘Heathrow Airport needs to pull up its pants. It’s chaos.’ 

Border Control is the responsibility of Border Force, which falls under the Home Office, who have been contacted for comment. Heathrow meanwhile said the issues at Terminal 5 were down to individual airlines.

It comes as passengers flying from Manchester Airport to Spain were forced to wait in crammed lines for more than three hours with ‘no social distancing or air conditioning’.

Ian Gold was due to fly with his wife, and their two daughters but their flight was delayed due to the ‘infuriating’ situation at the airport.

He said seven of ten security gates were closed and only one boarding pass was open, resulting in the queues ‘growing and growing’ up to more than 1,000 people.

Mr Gold blamed the issues on ‘staff shortages’ and said people in the queue were talking about cuts that had been made at the airport.

Manchester Airport has lost almost 500 members of its workforce to redundancy over the past 12 months due to plummeting passenger numbers as a result of the pandemic and the associated travel restrictions.

A spokesman for the airport told MailOnline said the longer security queues were due to a ‘greater number of passengers than expected, and a higher-than-usual rate of staff absence’.

Passengers travelling to Spain from the UK are currently required to fill in and sign an online health control form and must show a QR code, generated from the form, on arrival at a Spanish airport.

Tourists to Spain must show proof they have received at least two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, while EU citizens or those accompanying EU citizens may present alternative documentation to a vaccine certificate.

Mr Gold, his wife, and two daughters started queuing at Manchester Airport at 12pm today and got to the front three hours and 45 minutes later.

Calling it a ‘real disgrace’, Mr Gold said: ‘There’s old people with sticks and no where to sit, there’s no ventilation, there’s no social distancing.

He said his flight was due to take off at 4.10pm but had to be delayed until 5.45pm as a result of the queues.

He added: ‘There was a gentleman flying to Saudi Arabia in absolute panic because the flight was either gone or about to go.

A lady with two young babies was trying to get through. It was just a disaster zone.

‘This is important. We are talking about social distancing. It should be run properly. I’ve never seen anything like it.’  

Ian Gold said he and his family were forced to queue for more than three hours at Manchester Airport on Sunday afternoon

Ian Gold said he and his family were forced to queue for more than three hours at Manchester Airport on Sunday afternoon 

Mr Gold said there was no possibility to social distance in the queue and there was a lack of air conditioning. A spokesman for Manchester Airport said the longer security queues were 'due to there being a greater number of passengers than expected, and a higher-than-usual rate of staff absence'

Mr Gold said there was no possibility to social distance in the queue and there was a lack of air conditioning. A spokesman for Manchester Airport said the longer security queues were ‘due to there being a greater number of passengers than expected, and a higher-than-usual rate of staff absence’

‘Seven security gates are closed out of 10. That is infuriating, it really is. Everyone is next to each other. There’s no air conditioning. It is scorching. I am furious about it. There are people in their 70s and 80s, they are literally trying to run to their planes. The line just kept growing and growing.’

Mr Gold said only one boarding pass gate was operating, while all the others were closed. 

Were you caught in the BA chaos at Heathrow? 

Contact me with your experience and pictures at: [email protected] 

A spokesperson for Manchester Airport told MailOnline: ‘We have, at times this weekend, experienced longer security queues than we would like. This is due to there being a greater number of passengers than expected, and a higher-than-usual rate of staff absence.

‘Our customer service staff continue to do all they can to assist passengers.

‘Wherever possible, travellers are being prioritised within the queue, but we are aware some people have unfortunately missed flights and, along with their airlines, we have been working to support their onward travels as best we can.

‘Due to additional pre-departures checks, as countries update guidance for travel, it is very important that passengers arrive at least three hours before their scheduled flight time if they have to check in and drop bags. They can arrive two hours before if travelling just with hand luggage. Passengers should also familiarise themselves with security rules, especially if they haven’t travelled for some time.

‘We apologise to all affected for any inconvenience caused and are working to rectify the situation as soon as we can.’ 

It comes as it was revealed yesterday that ministers are considering slashing the quarantine period for people who test positive for Covid from ten to seven days.

As reported in Saturday’s Daily Mail, health experts, MPs and business leaders have called for a change, warning that the current rules risk crippling healthcare and the economy.

Anyone who is infected with the virus must isolate for ten days after first developing symptoms or testing positive. 

But the ‘blunt tool’ fails to account for infectiousness and is fuelling ‘lockdown by stealth’ by keeping so many people at home.

Covid Christmas: BA passengers face baggage delays while ITV cancels Good Morning Britain

Anyone who is infected with the virus must isolate for ten days after first developing symptoms or testing positive

It even has the backing of Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, pictured, whose doom-laden forecasts prompted previous lockdown measures

It even has the backing of Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, pictured, whose doom-laden forecasts prompted previous lockdown measures

Now it has emerged that modelling by government scientific advisers indicates it would be possible to reduce the isolation period without having a significant impact on infection rates if people had a negative test before they were released.

Sources say the change in policy is ‘being looked at’ to stop the country grinding to a halt.

It even has the backing of Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, whose doom-laden forecasts prompted previous lockdown measures.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday how he would feel about reducing quarantine to seven days, Professor Ferguson said: ‘All the modelling and analysis would suggest if it’s coupled with lateral- flow testing it’s not going to reduce the effectiveness of the measure that much.’

Tory MP Peter Bone backed a change, saying: ‘We need a more sophisticated policy that can help get people back to work as soon as possible.’

Officials estimate a million people a day could soon be infected with the Omicron variant, which would leave ‘swathes’ of the population interned. Experts say this could trash the economy by leaving shops, bars and restaurants with too few workers and customers while emergency services would also be understaffed.

The number of NHS staff in London absent due to Covid has more than doubled in four days and one in three of the workforce would be absent by New Year’s Eve if the growth rate continues.

Patricia Marquis, the Royal College of Nursing’s England director, said such a situation would be ‘catastrophic’.

‘Make your mind up, Boris’: PM delays decision on imposing new coronavirus curbs after emergency Cabinet meeting as furious Tory MPs demand the premier tell the nation if Christmas can go ahead amid fears of a circuit-breaker lockdown from December 28 

Boris Johnson today delayed making a decision on imposing new coronavirus curbs as furious Tory MPs demanded the Prime Minister tell the nation if people can go ahead with their Christmas plans. 

The PM hosted an emergency meeting of his Cabinet this afternoon to discuss if extra measures are needed to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. 

But a final decision was reportedly not made at the meeting which means it now seems unlikely that further restrictions will be rolled out before Christmas.

The PM has promised that MPs will get a vote on any additional rules but Parliament is now in recess and recalling the House of Commons, holding a debate and then voting would take an estimated 48 hours. 

Announcing curbs any later than today would therefore run the risk of people being told to follow new rules after they have already travelled to see family for Christmas. 

MailOnline understands that there are currently no plans for the PM to hold a Downing Street press conference this afternoon. 

Meanwhile, The Times reported that Mr Johnson and the Cabinet delayed a decision because they were not yet convinced the latest Omicron data justified announcing new restrictions. 

However, the newspaper said the Government could opt to impose a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown with a ban on indoor mixing immediately after Christmas, starting on December 28.  

Boris Johnson has been presented with three options to slow the spread of the Omicron variant with the PM reportedly clearing his diary today for crunch meetings with scientists and advisers

Boris Johnson has been presented with three options to slow the spread of the Omicron variant with the PM reportedly clearing his diary today for crunch meetings with scientists and advisers

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, told the Cabinet during a call on Saturday that hospital admissions in England could reach 3,000 a day unless further curbs are introduced

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, told the Cabinet during a call on Saturday that hospital admissions in England could reach 3,000 a day unless further curbs are introduced

The lack of clarity sparked an angry response from Tory former chief whip, Mark Harper, who tweeted: ‘Not telling the public what’s going on is unacceptable. These are big decisions affecting everyone’s lives, people’s livelihoods and mental wellbeing across the country. 

‘We all deserve to see the data Ministers see. Show us your workings. We can do so much better than this.’

The Prime Minister convened a virtual meeting of his top team at 2pm as he faced a growing Cabinet revolt over a potential further Covid crackdown. 

The PM has been presented with three options to tackle the variant amid surging case numbers, with the lowest level of intervention consisting of advice to limit household mixing indoors, according to The Telegraph.

The second level would see mandatory restrictions on household mixing, the return of social distancing and an 8pm curfew for pubs and restaurants while the third and toughest level would see a return to something close to a full lockdown

Mr Johnson is now considering his next move, knowing that any decision to tighten Covid rules will spark a furious Tory backlash. 

Downing Street at lunchtime refused to be drawn on the proposals which are reportedly under consideration, with the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman telling reporters: ‘At this point we are still monitoring the data and keeping a very close eye on it… we would update if any decisions are taken.’

Professor Carl Heneghan, director of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University and a GP, said this morning that ‘we are in deep, deep trouble of potentially talking ourselves into annual lockdowns’ as he argued the question should be ‘when are we going to treat people like adults?’. 

Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary, today refused to rule out more curbs being introduced before Christmas

Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary, today refused to rule out more curbs being introduced before Christmas

But Stephen Reicher, professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews and a member of government advisory body the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B), said ‘we need to reduce our contacts’.

Asked about Christmas, he said: ‘The safest thing is not to meet up before Christmas. If you want a good Christmas dinner, I would say be very careful about meeting up before Christmas.’ 

At least 10 Cabinet ministers are said to be resisting further curbs because they have concerns about the accuracy of expert modelling on the spread of Omicron. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is one of the ministers to have expressed concerns about the projected numbers, according to The Times, after SAGE warned there could be 3,000 patients a day in need of hospital treatment without urgent action. 

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, told the Cabinet on a call on Saturday that curbs should be rolled out as soon as possible but one third of senior ministers are said to be against the move. 

One Cabinet figure said that ‘hospitals are not being overwhelmed’ and ‘we’re in a battle to save Christmas’ with one minister having made clear they will quit if there is a return to lockdown.  

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab today refused to rule out additional restrictions before Christmas Day as he said he could not make ‘hard, fast guarantees’. 

The Justice Secretary insisted ‘we will have a much better Christmas than last year’ but said ‘people will need to be careful and cautious’. 

Mr Raab said the Government is aiming to take ‘informed decisions and of course we want to take them earlier rather than later’ in a hint that new curbs could be announced before December 25. 

Tory MPs last night said any attempt to toughen rules before Christmas will provoke letters seeking to oust Mr Johnson as party leader.  

Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday refused to rule out Covid measures coming into force before Christmas Day but ministers indicated they will not back new curbs.

The warnings from MPs and Cabinet ministers came just 24 hours after Lord Frost, up to now a close ally of Mr Johnson, dramatically quit as Brexit Minister slating ‘coercive’ Covid curbs and high taxes.  

Lord Frost walked out with a parting shot at the ‘direction of travel’ and saying he had hoped the end of lockdown would be ‘irreversible’. His departure was described as a ‘watershed moment’ in what had been an extremely damaging week for Mr Johnson.

It came as the official number of confirmed cases of the Omicron variant yesterday rose by nearly 50 per cent to 37,000 in just 24 hours.

Families are desperate to spend Christmas together after last year’s Covid lockdown rules meant millions were forced to be apart or severely scale back their celebrations.

It is understood Mr Johnson is resisting calls for restrictions ahead of December 25, but there are mounting fears they will be imposed after that, spoiling New Year plans for millions. 

Mr Javid repeatedly declined to rule out imposing tough restrictions before Christmas as he warned there are ‘no guarantees’ Christmas Day will go ahead without a lockdown. 

The Health Secretary acknowledged that data about the Omicron variant remained incomplete – but suggested it might be necessary to make decisions before a full picture is available.  

 


Most Related Links :
Business News Governmental News Finance News

Source link

Back to top button