England’s chief medical officer has urged people to “raise a glass” to scientists this Christmas, as the Prime Minister said this festive period will be “considerably better” than the last.
Professor Chris Whitty, speaking at Saturday’s Downing Street press conference in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant in the UK, said those who have worked on the vaccine should be honoured.
Prof Whitty said: “If I can make one Christmas plea, it would be that when people raise their glasses this Christmas, they do so to the extraordinary scientists who produce the vaccines, the diagnostics, the drugs, which will allow this Christmas, if possible, to be in a very different place to what it would have been without them.”
Boris Johnson also said temporary and precautionary measures to protect against the Omicron variant, including face coverings, are to be made mandatory in shops and on public transport.
However, all hospitality settings are exempt from this rule, meaning Christmas parties in pubs and restaurants are able to go ahead as normal.
Asked about this year’s festivities, the Prime Minister said: “We continue to be in a strong position largely thanks to the speed of the vaccine rollout, another booster rollout, and I think I’m going to stick with the formula I’ve used before, which is I’m pretty confident to absolutely confident this Christmas will be considerably better than last Christmas, if that will do for the time being on that one.”
He said the country is in a “strong position” ahead of the festive period but the “best thing to do” is to keep being jabbed.
Last year, people in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were allowed to form a Christmas bubble with up to three households, and meet up from December 23 to 27, while in Wales it was two households.
The bubble had to be exclusive, meaning people could not swap between them, and pubs and restaurants were closed on the day.