No more COVID rules in England before New Year, Javid confirms

New Year’s Eve plans in England have been given the green light, as Sajid Javid confirmed the government will not be imposing any further restrictions before the New Year.

The health secretary said people should “remain cautious” when taking part in New Year’s celebrations – and take a lateral flow test before attending events.

Mr Javid did not rule out the possibility of further measures being taken in January, adding that the government “will see” whether the data suggests they are needed.

The decision comes as latest figures show England reported a record number of new cases on Christmas Day.

Mr Javid said: “Of course we look at the data on a daily basis, that hasn’t changed over the Christmas period, but there will be no further measures before the New Year.

“We won’t be taking any further measures. Of course, people should remain cautious as we approach New Year’s celebrations, and you know, take a lateral flow test if that makes sense.

“Celebrate outside if you can, have some ventilation indoors if you can, please remain cautious.

“And when we get into the New Year, of course, we will see then whether we do need to take any further measures – but nothing more until then at least.”

Mr Javid said while “there is still a lot of uncertainty” around Omicron – which it is believed makes up “some 90% of cases” across England at present – there has been positive news in recent days that the variant is milder.

“Now, that in itself is not good new enough – that is good news, but we know that it spreads very rapidly, so we have to set that news against that – but, whilst we should all absolutely remain cautious, we don’t think there is any need for any new measures until the New Year.

“But, of course, we will keep that under review.”

Asked why the Scottish, Welsh and Irish governments have analysed the same data and introduced more restrictions, the health secretary reiterated that it is for each government to make their own decisions.

Mr Javid added that England is “very, very focused on vaccinations”.

“Vaccinations, antivirals, a testing regime and cautious behaviour that we are seeing – people’s changing in habits as we have seen over Christmas – this will all help to limit spread.

“But, of course, we will watch carefully what is happening in the hospitals, we are working to build hospital capacity as well and continue to do that.

“But we will watch the situation very carefully and should in the future we need to act, of course we won’t hesitate to do so.”

The announcement comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance on Monday to discuss the latest coronavirus data.