Will There Be A Lockdown After Christmas 2021?

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It's unclear if the UK will be heading into its fourth lockdown after Christmas (Photo: elenaleonova via Getty Images)
It's unclear if the UK will be heading into its fourth lockdown after Christmas (Photo: elenaleonova via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has confirmed that there will be no additional restrictions brought in before Christmas Day – but what will happen after?

As Omicron cases continue to worry experts and other parts of Europe bring back strict lockdowns, the situation appears far from clear.

Here’s what we know so far.

What measures will be in place for Christmas?

The prime minister has ruled out imposing any further measures before Christmas Day in England.

At the moment, the government is sticking to ‘Plan B’ in England – mandatory face masks on public transport, inside shops and crowded areas, working from home guidance and the use of Covid passes for some venues.

This plan was brought in shortly after the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed that Omicron was a variant of concern.

Despite subsequent COBRA meetings and UK cases reaching above 100,000 for the first time since mass testing began in the pandemic, Downing Street has not altered this advice for the Christmas period.

Wales, on the hand, will be introducing new restrictions from 6am on Boxing Day with the rule of six in pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas, compulsory contact tracing, a two-metre social distancing rule and face masks.

Northern Ireland’s devolved government is yet to announce new restrictions while in Scotland the pantomime season is ending early, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay events have been called off and outdoor events are limited to 500 people from Boxing Day.

Wales has imposed new restrictions, starting from 6am on Boxing Day (Photo: Matthew Horwood via Getty Images)
Wales has imposed new restrictions, starting from 6am on Boxing Day (Photo: Matthew Horwood via Getty Images)

So, could there be another lockdown in 2021?

The prime minister explained that he “can’t rule out” any further measures after Christmas Day on Tuesday, and urged everyone “to exercise caution” in the coming days.

He said the government would “not hesitate to act” if the data suggested tighter restrictions were needed.

Ministers claim more evidence is needed before any further measures are brought in, but they have not set a date for when the rules might change for England.

Health minister Gillian Keegan indicated on Wednesday that a circuit breaker could happen after Christmas.

She said: “We have to keep that option open, cases are going up at the moment and we are looking at hospitalisations going up.

“We do have to reserve that option. We will not hesitate if it is required to keep people safe.”

New restrictions could be dodged if daily hospital admissions in London – the UK’s current epicentre for the virus – stay below 400 a day, according to the i newspaper.

The NHS will be overwhelmed if there are more than 3,000 daily hospitalisations nationwide linked to Covid.

And while the data looks relatively so far, there is always a two to three-week lag between infections and hospital admissions – meaning the health service might only feel the effects of the current surge in cases in January.

Health secretary Sajid Javid meeting with hospital staff amid fears that the NHS could be overwhelmed (Photo: Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images)
Health secretary Sajid Javid meeting with hospital staff amid fears that the NHS could be overwhelmed (Photo: Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images)

What you can do to stay safe this winter

While public health remains a concern in the UK, here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones in the coming weeks.

Get your booster vaccineif you are eligible – this will decrease the severity of Omicron’s symptoms and could prevent those infected from being hospitalised.

If you have not got your first or second dose, book an appointment with a vaccine centre as soon as you can.

Try to get a flu jab too, as catching this annual bug could make you more susceptible to severe Covid symptoms.

Take a lateral flow testbefore seeing vulnerable people, stay at home if you have any symptoms.

Try to ventilate your home or any indoor place where you are meeting up with others for at least 10 minutes every hour, so that the virus does not build up.

Wear a mask in crowded places, indoors and outdoors, and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you can.

Follow the government’s guidance to work from home where possible, and reduce the amount of socialising you do by prioritising what events are important to you.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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