Lockdown for Christmas? Britons Avoid More Holiday Restrictions… For Now

Police officers wearing a face mask or covering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walk past a display of Christmas trees in Belfast on November 27, 2020, as stricter restrictions come in to force to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. - Northern Ireland shops, pubs and restaurants will …
PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images

The UK Health Secretary has told Britons not to change their holiday plans, but avoided promising there wouldn’t be a lockdown this Christmas.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid claimed that there are currently no plans from the government to introduce a Christmas lockdown but caveated by saying that he could not make a direct promise amid the new coronavirus variant.

The comments came after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reimposed mandatory mask-wearing in shops and on public transport after two cases of the new Omicron variant of the Chinese coronavirus were detected in the country.

The new variant, which was first isolated in South Africa, has also been detected in Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, and Italy.

“It would be irresponsible to make guarantees,” Javid told Sky News on Sunday, but emphasized that “people should continue with their plans as normal for Christmas.”

“I think it’s going to be a great Christmas,” Javid concluded.

The UK has also imposed new restrictions regarding international travel. Those arriving from abroad will have to self-isolate until they receive a negative test on the second day after their arrival, as well as complete a passenger locater form within 48 hours of their arrival.

These restrictions will not apply to members of the common travel area, such as Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands.

Ten African countries have also been added to the so-called “red-list”, with anyone travelling from the locations being forced to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days after arriving.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has announced that all students in English secondary schools will be given a COVID test on-site following the Christmas break in January.

“[The Government] seems to have forgotten that school leaders are educators rather than an ad hoc branch of the NHS,” the Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, Julie McCulloch, said, criticising the move.

While Javid said that the UK is unlikely to see a Christmas lockdown, similar promises on the matter have been broken by the British government in the past.

Having promised a temporary five-day loosening of COVID rules for the holiday season last year, Johnson later proceeded to cancel Christmas at the last minute for much of South-East England, including London.

Lockdowns are not the only Covid related issue the Johnson government has flip-flopped on in the past.

The government appeared to make a u-turn in September regarding the imposition of internal vaccine passports in England in September.

There was also significant confusion over whether children aged 12-15 could get vaccinated without parental permission, which the government ultimately approved.

According to Javid, the new restrictions will be reviewed in three weeks time, approximately one week before Christmas.

Britain’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty has also opined that he thinks Brits would be willing to accept new coronavirus restrictions, though still admitted the matter of public acceptance of new lockdowns is presently his “greatest worry”.

While the UK remains open for now, other European countries have already reimposed draconian measures on their populations.

Austria began a 20-day lockdown on Monday, with members of the public only being permitted to leave their homes in order to buy food or exercise.

The Austrian government has also stated that the lockdown will likely remain in place indefinitely for those who are not vaccinated against the virus, with plans to make vaccinations compulsory starting February. Those who refuse to take the jab will face fines and even potential prison time.

Questions have also been raised in Germany regarding the implementation of a similar measure, with a majority of the population reportedly in favour of legally forcing people to get vaccinated.

Javid has denied the possibility of the measure being implemented in the UK, saying that vaccination should be a “positive choice”.

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