Boris Johnson “scheduled a 5pm press conference to announce new rules yesterday before they were scrapped at the last minute”
BORIS Johnson is scheduled for a 5 p.m. press conference to announce new rules yesterday before they are scrapped at the last minute, it seems.
It is understood that the announcement was planned and then canceled after the two-hour Cabinet meeting yesterday, in which high-level ministers resisted calls for restrictions.
Last night, the prime minister did not announce further restrictions, but warned he was monitoring the situation “hour by hour” and “reserving the right” to act.
He said the “explosion” of Omicron cases was a wake-up call for the British to get their boosters – further underscoring the need for volunteers to sign up for the Sun’s Jabs Army campaign.
Ministers have reportedly repeatedly argued that data on the growing number of Omicron cases does not justify throwing people’s party plans into chaos.
Boris then bowed to the pressure – and pressed a pause on further restrictions until there was clearer evidence of the Omicron threat.
At the Cabinet meeting, only four ministers spoke in favor of the new restrictions – while the rest are said to be against it overall.
This is why Boris’s alleged announcement scheduled for last night was canceled, it has been learned.
A Cabinet source said the prime minister “didn’t need a lot of conviction” to refrain from further restrictions.
They added: “It was ‘Let’s look at the data, analyze everything and if anything has changed, we will take action.’
“He [the PM] was generally open-minded, but needs evidence to prove that we should be doing something before we do. “
A Cabinet source said: “If anyone wants to tell me that I have to restrict people’s freedoms, I have to make it very clear why it is to protect their health.
“I can’t see anything yet.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is believed to have been among those who wanted more data before new restrictions were decided – while Grant Shapps and Kwasi Kwarteng were concerned about the economic impact.
A draconian breaker to bite on Omicron is still on the cards after Christmas as ministers look at data like hawks.
The post-festive squeeze could catapult Britain to Stage 2 restrictions like alfresco pints, indoor mixing ban and the hated rule of six.
Time is running out for the prime minister to impose restrictions by December 25 – as he has to consult parliament – and he is believed to be considering a tightening on December 27.
A December 27 crackdown is also expected to be announced in the coming days so MPs can be called back to vote.
Conservative rebels are preparing to oppose new measures and warn that more than 100 of them could revolt and trigger resignations.
Cabinet Minister Steve Barclay this morning refused to rule out temporary measures to stop the rapid spread of Omicron.
THE NATION IS WAITING
When asked on LBC if the government was considering a circuit breaker, he said: “We are looking closely at the data, there is still a lot that we do not know about the seriousness of Omicron, how this leads to hospitalizations.
“We are particularly looking at the data from London, there is a higher prevalence of Omicron especially in London.”
The Queen has canceled her Christmas reunion at Sandringham for a second year, but Premier League chiefs have refused to cancel the festive fixtures – despite the teams ravaging Covid.
As Mr Johnson mulled over a cap on indoor mixing and forced pubs to serve only outdoors, there was a silver lining for the celebrations as the booster shots hit the target of ‘a million a day.
The prime minister said he had to “reserve the possibility” of festive restrictions for a second year in a row. But he warned he was not ruling anything out in the coming days if incoming data showed the Covid mutant risked overwhelming the NHS.
It has left millions in limbo due to party travel plans and desperate pub owners.
No10 is awaiting new data from Imperial College London, which will shed light on Omicron’s seriousness, to arrive tomorrow before making a final call.
Mr Johnson is also hoping to avoid a lockdown for as long as possible after encouraging data shows the British are self-controlling and limiting their mix much more than expected.
But SAGE minutes leaks warned that “tougher measures should be implemented very soon” and scores of scientists hit the airwaves again yesterday to demand restrictions immediately.
The Prime Minister has promised to give MPs a vote on any new restriction before it goes into effect, which means a recall from Parliament.
But hopes are growing that the window for doing so is now too narrow to ruin Christmas – but seriously calls into question the New Year’s celebrations.
begging last night to be informed of how much beer to order for the weeks to come.
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