British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a return to a full indoor mask mandate, along with vaccine passport requirements for large venues, and a request for people to work from home.
Johnson announced the British government’s much touted”Plan B” measures would go into effect this week and the next, which he said was a “proportionate and responsible” response, as government statistics show that cases of the coronavirus are rising, with the new Omicron variant spreading across the populace. “We must be humble in the face of this virus,” he argued at a Wednesday press conference.
As a result, from Monday, people will be advised to once again work from home if possible. From Friday, the indoor mask mandates, which were reintroduced recently for shops and public transport, will now also include most indoor venues, including cinemas and theatres. Most significantly, from sometime next week, a covid vaccine passport will be required for entry to nightclubs and large venues, including unseated indoor venues with a 500 person capacity and unseated outdoor venues with a 5,000 person capacity.
Johnson confirmed that the vaccine passport would only require two jabs for now, but may be updated to require a need for a third booster jab later. Notably, for those who aren’t vaccinated, a negative lateral flow test would be also be acceptable for entry to the venues.
However, Johnson was keen to note that there would be no restrictions on Christmas parties, or nativity plays at schools. The media were quick to higlight that suggesting that people work from home, but come back into work for office Christmas parties, seemed rather bizarre. A number of journalists at the press conference, including the BBC’s Laura Kuennsberg, further highlighted that Johnson and the government had come under fire in the past 24 hours for allegedly breaking lockdown restrictions last year with their own Christmas party.
'It does seem a little odd that you're being told to work from home… But you can come in if you want to have a work Christmas party'
GB News Political Editor Darren McCaffrey updates as Boris Johnson announces new Covid restrictions including working from home. pic.twitter.com/MOUcCqIgTA
— GB News (@GBNEWS) December 8, 2021
— Michael Morgan (@mikewhoatv) December 8, 2021
Furthermore, when questioned, Johnson did not rule out mandatory vaccinations, saying that while mandatory vaccinations were “not the way we do things in this country,” that if the booster jabs “are capable of holding [back] Omicron,” then the UK would need to have “a national conversation about the way forward.”
“I don’t believe we can keep going indefinitely with non-pharmaceutical interventions, restrictions on people’s way of life, just because a substantial proportion of the population still sadly have not been vaccinated,” Johnson added.
Despite scary government statistical graphs included in the press conference showing that cases have been increasing since the detection of the Omicron variant, crucially, hospitalisations for coronavirus have actually been decreasing since the end of October.
Unsurprisingly, British political commentators were angry at the new restrictions, including some who had even supported lockdown policies throughout the pandemic. Douglas Ross MP MSP, the leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland, said that he would be rebelling against the Westminster party and would refuse to vote for vaccine passports in Parliament.
There is no evidence that vaccine passports stop the spread of Covid.
I didn’t vote for them at Holyrood and I won’t be voting for them at Westminster.
— Douglas Ross MP MSP (@Douglas4Moray) December 8, 2021
How many times are we going to be told by the PM and his advisers that we must learn to live with this virus?
And how many times are they going to stop us from doing just that?
When does this end?
WHEN. WE. SAY. IT. DOES.
It's over. No more. We want our lives back.
— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) December 8, 2021
Work from home.
But go to your office Christmas party.
Wear a mask in the theatre.
But not in a nightclub.
Go to school.
Host your nativity play.
But limit your social contacts.
— Tom Harwood (@tomhfh) December 8, 2021
As National File reported in October, Johnson admitted that vaccines do not prevent the spread or transmission of Covid-19, with a government report concluding that vaccine passport mandates would be entirely pointless.
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