Don’t cancel Christmas parties or nativity plays

The prime minister said another lockdown was “unlikely” but the government will keep “everything under review” during a No 10 press conference on the variant and plans to expand the booster vaccine rollout.

“On Christmas parties and nativity plays, we don’t want people to cancel such events,” Mr Johnson said, adding: “We think that overwhelmingly the best thing for kids is to be in school.”

Boris Johnson has said he does not want Britons not to cancel their Christmas parties or nativity plays as he said out plans to tackle the rise of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Asked if he agreed with Dr Jenny Harries, who urged people not to socialise if they do not need to in the run-up to Christmas, the prime minister said: “So the answer is no.”

Mr Johnson said the guidance on socialising “remains the same” – insisting that the government will not keep renewed mask restrictions in place any longer than necessary.

“The measures that we have put in place will not last a minute more than we think they are strictly necessary for the protection of public health,” the PM said.

He added: “We’ve got the measures in place to fight Delta, which we think are appropriate, and then we’re bringing in some tougher measures to stop the rapid seeding of Omicron in this country to give us the time we need to get the boosters in.”

The prime minister said all adults will be able to book their booster jabs by the end of January 2022, and confirmed the programme will be working down in descending age groups – going down in five-year bands.

He also revealed 400 military officers are being drafted in to help with the NHS’ efforts accelerate the national vaccination programme.

The government’s expansion of the vaccination programme to include all adults 18 and over will also see the time between second jabs and boosters cut from six to three months.

It comes as eight further cases of omicron were confirmed in England on Tuesday – taking the total number of cases involving the variant to 13.

The NHS had asked for military assistance to aid its efforts to more than double current vaccination booster rates. Sources attending a webinar told The Independent that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had been contacted by health leaders to provide support.

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