'We Will Rule Nothing Out': BoJo Says No COVID-19 Restrictions for Now, Reserves Possibility
06:37 GMT 21.12.2021 (Updated: 21:39 GMT 18.10.2022)
On Monday, British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab made it clear that the government cannot make "hard guarantees" that there won't be a Christmas lockdown. The statement came as a further 91,743 coronavirus cases were registered across the UK in the second-highest daily total on record.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced no further COVID-19 restrictions
on England but warned the government may tighten the screws in the coming days.
Speaking at an unscheduled virtual cabinet meeting, he stressed that the government will "unfortunately have to reserve the possibility of taking further action to protect the public, public health, and our NHS [National Health Service]".
Johnson added that the data related to the new coronavirus variant Omicron is "under constant review", with the situation "extremely difficult" and the "arguments either way are very, very finely balanced".
The prime minister also said that with no further restrictions in the pipeline, ministers are looking at "all kinds of things to keep Omicron under control and we will rule nothing out".
Johnson called on Britons to continue to "exercise caution", including wearing face masks, washing hands, and getting "a booster" shot.
"There are still some things that we need to be clearer about before we decide to go further", he said, adding that millions of people have not had their first COVID-19 vaccine dose yet.
"Those who are unvaccinated, whether out of apathy, for whatever reason, please think of this as a great thing to do for you and your family", the PM stated.
Downing Street rejected media reports that Monday's cabinet meeting was an emergency gathering held after the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) estimated that daily hospital admissions could reach 3,000 if no more restrictions are imposed.
The gathering followed British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab telling Sky News that "we [the UK] will have a much better Christmas than last year because of the vaccination level, both the overall vaccination level but particularly the impact of the booster campaign".
When asked if he could guarantee that there won't be any more restrictive measures ahead of Christmas Day, the deputy prime minister said: "Well, I just can't make hard, fast guarantees".
England's death toll from the Omicron variant has, meanwhile, soared to 14, while hospital admissions for patients with confirmed or suspected Omicron increased to 129, according to the UK Health Security Agency.
The total confirmed cases of Omicron across the UK currently stand at 41,259, while a further 91,743 coronavirus cases were registered in the country on Monday, in the second-highest daily total on record.
18 December 2021, 07:04 GMT
PM Johnson earlier rolled out his "Omicron Emergency Boost" plan, which stipulates offering a COVID-19 booster jab to every adult before the end of December, a blueprint that means vaccinating about one million people a day.
Right now, the country is under so-called Plan B restrictions
, which includes the introduction of health certificates for nightclubs and large events across England.
The plan was previously okayed by the British Parliament, but 99 Conservative Party members said "no" to the document, in the largest Tory revolt of Boris Johnson's time in office.