CHRISTMAS can go ahead lockdown free, Boris Johnson declared last night — but New Year’s Eve looks doomed.
After 48 hours of confusion and a Cabinet backlash, the PM finally confirmed that no new Covid restrictions will be brought in before the festive weekend.
But as the Omicron variant continued to surge, he warned that “the situation remains finely balanced”.
The threat of more curbs loomed as Mr Johnson said “we cannot rule out further measures after Christmas”.
Pubs could be forced to serve outside and indoor mixing capped as soon as next Tuesday.
Downing Street insiders refused to rule out tougher rules immediately after the weekend.
Mr Johnson urged families holding festive get togethers to protect granny and grandpa from Covid by leaving windows open to “keep fresh air circulating”.
Comic Matt Lucas famously lampooned the PM’s dithering on TV’s Great British Bake Off in the early stages of the first lockdown.
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Yesterday’s announcement means that Boxing Day football will go ahead with crowds in England — unlike in Scotland where games will be limited to 500 fans.
It came as it emerged that 90 per cent of Covid patients in hospital intensive care units are unvaccinated.
Yesterday confirmed cases of the new more infectious strain dipped slightly.
Another 90,629 were reported along with 172 deaths.
No10 is on red alert for the NHS being overwhelmed in the coming weeks.
Mr Johnson will mull over new hospital data before making a decision on what measures may be needed.
The PM could yet announce plans for restrictions before this weekend — but time has run out to get them voted on and introduced before early next week.
He is considering casting Britain back to the dark days of last spring’s Step 2 curbs — where pints were only allowed outdoors and indoor mixing was banned.
Parliament could be recalled as soon as December 28, after Mr Johnson promised MPs would get a say on any new measures.
Cabinet ministers last night fanned fears of a so-called short “circuit-breaker” lockdown following a decision on Monday to hold off any imminent curbs.
Read our Covid-19 live blog for the latest updates
The PM said in a video message: “Naturally we can’t rule out any further measures after Christmas — and we’re going to keep a constant eye on the data, and we’ll do whatever it takes to protect public health.”
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Yesterday Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon heaped further pressure on Mr Johnson to tighten rules as she unveiled a draconian Boxing Day clampdown on football fans, pubs and socialising north of the border.
And in a New Year’s Eve blow, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay events were also cancelled.
Clubbers in Scotland will have to dance socially distanced at least a metre apart under barmy new guidance.
Meanwhile, one of Britain’s leading medics, ex-Sage adviser Sir Jeremy Farrar said he believed the PM was right to wait for the data.
Comic Matt Lucas famously lampooned Boris Johnson’s dithering on TV’s Great British Bake Off in the early stages of the first lockdown with the slogan: ‘Stay Alert, Bake Cake, Save Loaves’[/caption]
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