New Year’s Eve revellers will be able to celebrate the beginning of 2022 and bid goodbye to 2021 without Covid restrictions as daily reported cases in the UK jumped to a record 183,037 on Wednesday. Party-goers have been encouraged to use lateral flow tests before socialising this New Year’s Eve, but a worrying number of pharmacies have been reporting shortages over the festive period.
Rapid tests were not available for delivery on the Government website for the majority of Tuesday, causing pharmacies to state there was a “huge” supply problem.
Leyla Hannbeck, the chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said a lack of lateral flow kits over Christmas had put those “doing the responsible thing” in a difficult situation.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What our members are telling us is that demand for the lateral flow tests is very high at the moment due to the current guidelines around self-isolation.
“Pharmacies are reporting that every five minutes, approximately, somebody comes into the pharmacy asking for a test.
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“But, unfortunately, because of the issues around supply being patchy and inconsistent, it means that those who come for the test don’t always get it, which is very stressful; not just for the pharmacy team, but for the patient.
“The scale of the problem is huge because the demand is high, because of the current guidelines.
“People are doing the responsible thing by wanting to be tested.
“And we are in the Christmas area of time and the new year is just around the corner and people want to be with family and friends.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid gave parties the green light, but stated people must “remain cautious” and take a lateral flow test before attending one.
However, Mr Javid did not rule out the possibility of further measures being taken in January, adding the Government “will see” whether they are needed.
England reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases on Christmas Day, surging to 113,628 new infections.
It’s also been revealed there were 103,558 new cases reported on Boxing Day.
Unlike in England, where venues are being allowed to remain open, the Welsh government has shut down nightclubs and ordered pubs to impose one metre social distancing.
Similarly, Scotland has imposed strict Covid measures to tackle the spread of Omicron during the festive season.
The Scottish government has ordered all clubs to close for at least three weeks from December 27 in an effort to slow the coronavirus surge.
Outdoor events are also limited to 500 people.
In response to England’s lack of restrictions, Scottish ministers have implored Scots not to travel to England to ring in the new year.