BORIS Johnson has come under increasing pressure to impose sterner restrictions as Covid-19 cases have been rising due to the spread of the Omicron variant.
The Prime Minister though has vowed not to have a lockdown before Christmas although rumours have swirled that plans for one after have been drawn up.
Will the UK go into another lockdown?
This looks unlikely to happen before Christmas with Johnson saying: “We are not closing things down.”
However, imposing stronger restrictions and even a lockdown after Christmas Day, have not been ruled out.
Officials have been mulling proposals for a two-week circuit-breaker, which would include a ban on meeting friends and family indoors.
The Times reports that ministers are preparing draft plans that will prevent Brits meeting others indoors except for work purposes.
Pubs and restaurants would be limited to outdoor service only if the scheme is given the green light.
Other reports suggest Mr Johnson has been presented with a range of options for ‘plan C’, ranging from “mild guidance to nudge people, right through to lockdown”.
Pessimistic Sage scientists have told the Government tougher measures will be needed “very soon”.
Which area of the UK has the most cases?
Of the 377 local areas in the UK, 226 (60 per cent) have seen a week-on-week rise in rates, 149 (40 per cent) have seen a fall and two are unchanged.
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South Northamptonshire has the highest rate in the UK, with 917 new cases per 100,000 people per week.
Reigate and Banstead in Surrey is second, with 891 case per 100,000, while Orkney Islands, Scotland, is at the bottom, with 103.
But the five areas with the largest week-on-week rises are all in London, with Southwark top, seeing an increase from 463 to 818 per 100,000.
The other areas are Lambeth, Hackney, Islington and Lewisham.
Johnson told Brits to get their booster jabs as soon as they can, after long snaking queues were seen at vaccine centres across the country.
The Sun is also urging readers to sign up to the Jabs Army campaign to make the rollout as smooth and fast as possible.
A record 93,000 Brits were newly-infected with coronavirus on December 17, 2021.
Tens of thousands of Brits will be isolating this Christmas as a result of the spike.
What has Boris Johnson said on lockdown?
Johnson has said a “considerable wave” of cases is sweeping in – but stood firm on tougher rules this side of Christmas.
“I’ve said already that people should be cautious, but what we have also said is that people should decide what they want to do. It is a matter for their personal choice,” he said.
“We are not closing things down but we do think people need to be cautious.”
Johnson has refrained from telling people to stop enjoying their festivities, saying “we’re not closing hospitality, we’re not cancelling people’s parties or their ability to mix”.
He said people should instead “be careful before they go” – meaning to take a lateral flow test at home.
However, he urged everyone to get their booster – and warned the mutation is “a very serious threat to us now”.
On a visit to a vaccination centre in Hillingdon, West London, he said: “People have got to be prepared and they have got to understand what it entails.”
And he said Brits must be “prudent”.
“You need to think about your budget of risk,” he said.
Why are Covid cases increasing rapidly?
The Omicron variant now makes up 34 per cent of cases across England and is driving a tidal wave of infections.
The strain has overtaken the previously-dominant Delta variant in the space of a month or so.
Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE Covid Study app, said: “Omicron is set to be the dominant strain in the UK by Christmas, and in the New Year cases could hit a peak higher than anything we’ve ever seen before.
“In London cases have been rising rapidly, but this will likely slow down soon, as people change their behaviour, such as wearing face masks again, cancelling parties and working from home more.
“Hopefully people now recognise the cold-like symptoms which appear to be the predominant feature of Omicron.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has previously said that the window between infection and infectiousness may be shorter for the Omicron variant, making it able to spread faster.
Source: The Sun