UK Covid live: No 10 refuses to back health chief’s call for people to avoid unnecessary socialising

Good morning. We’ve got another day where politics will be largely dominated by news and debate about the measures being taken in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant. There will be a debate and vote in the Commons, statements from the Scottish and Welsh governments, and a press conference from Boris Johnson this afternoon, focusing on booster vaccines. And this morning Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), has been on the Today programme. The new Covid restrictions for England announced by the government were relatively minimal compared with what they might have been – many countries have significantly tougher rules for Delta – but Harries gave a hint of of how scientists’ preferences are some way ahead of what politicians are willing to legislate for when she said it would better if avoided unnecessary socialising.

Harries stressed that we still don’t know how serious is the threat posed by Omicron. Asked if she wanted to see more people working from home (a measure in the UK government’s plan B, but not one that it has yet implemented), Harries told the programme:

We’ve seen is, in fact, that not everybody has gone back to work. I’d like to think of it more in a general way, which is if we all decrease our social contacts a little bit, actually that helps to keep the variant at bay. So I think being careful, not socialising when we don’t particularly need to and particularly going and getting those booster jabs.

I will post more from her interview shortly.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.

Morning: Keir Starmer chairs a meeting of his new shadow cabinet.

9.30am: Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of energy regulator Ofgem, gives evidence to the Lords industry and regulators committee about energy prices.

10.15am: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, gives evidence to the Commons privileges committee about the powers committees should have to summon witnesses.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

11.30am: Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, takes questions in the Commons. David Lammy will respond for Labour as the new shadow foreign secretary.

12.15pm: Eluned Morgan, the Welsh government’s health minister, holds a Covid briefing.

After 12.45pm: MPs begin a three-hour debate on the new Covid restrictions for England announced at the weekend.

After 2pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, gives a statement to the Scottish parliament on Covid.

Around 4pm: MPs begin a debate on an SNP motion censuring Boris Johnson for dishonesty and other breaches of standards.

Afternoon: Boris Johnson holds a press conference.

I will be covering UK Covid developments here, as well as non-Covid politics, but for global Covid developments, do read our global live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

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