In just three days Britons will be able to rid themselves of 2021 and welcome the new year, but as the heavily mutated Omicron variant continues to rapidly spread across the globe, England will be the only country in the United Kingdom to skip out on restrictions. Both Wales and Northern Ireland face ringing in 2022 while clubs are closed and abiding by the rule of six, while Scotland also closed the doors on its clubs and is enforcing table service only.
Gillian Keegan, 53, the Health Minister, has warned revelers to exercise caution on the 31st due to the drastic spike in infections.
She said: “It is highly infectious.
“So take a lateral flow test before you go out, go to well ventilated areas.
“Do try to enjoy yourself — but cautiously.”
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The announcement stating parties can go ahead this New Year’s Eve was a relief to the hospitality sector which has taken a hit amid the Omicron wave.
Baroness McGregor-Smith, president of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “I am delighted to see that we are protecting New Year’s Eve but it just won’t go far enough.
“We have called for looking at focused support on furlough and looking to increase grants, also making sure that the emergency rate of VAT continues beyond March as does the business rates relief.”
As Ms Keegan calls for New Year’s Eve revellers to take a lateral flow test prior to socialising, reports reveal pharmacies across England have run out of test kits for distribution to the public before Christmas.
Many pharmacies have been unable to receive additional kits as the supply chain has been disrupted by the festive holidays.
On Tuesday, Covid cases in England hit another record high, with a further 117,093 infections reported.
Roughly 9,546 people are in hospital with Covid – the highest number since March.
However, full UK-wide Covid data has been unavailable over the Christmas period.
It is likely a full national picture will only be available again in the first week of January.