UK Covid live: ‘keep calm and carry on’ with Christmas plans, says minister despite high case numbers

Britons were today urged to “keep calm and carry on with your Christmas plans” – despite the UK recording its highest cases since July.

Oliver Dowden, the Conservative party chair, said people should keep going to pubs and restaurants as he claimed the government has so far taken “sufficient” action against the new Omicron variant.

“The message to people is fairly straightforward, which is keep calm, carry on with your Christmas plans,” he told Sky News this morning. “We’ve put the necessary restrictions in place, but beyond that, keep calm and carry on.”

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

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

Dowden’s words echo those of the prime minister yesterday who said in an interview that people should not be cancelling Christmas parties. “The most important thing is that people should follow the guidance we’ve set out,” he said in a pooled broadcast interview. “People shouldn’t be cancelling things. There’s no need for that at all. It’s 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 restrictions on travel.

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

“We have not changed the advice around people taking part in hospitality – so going to the pub, going to restaurants and so on,” he said.

“And actually I think most pubs and restaurants up until very recently have been doing very well during this season and we’re not discouraging people to do so.”

While he said he was “confident” that this Christmas would be better than 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 chief scientific adviser [Sir Patrick Vallance] attend cabinet and were at cabinet when we discussed this earlier this week.

Hi, I’ll be looking after the blog today covering UK covid news. Please get in touch with any tips or suggestions:

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