People should carry on with their plans for Christmas, the Health Secretary has insisted, though he urged partygoers to take a Covid lateral flow test before attending events.
As the Government accelerates the Covid booster programme to help slow down the spread of the new Omicron variant, Sajid Javid said people should continue following Government advice despite warnings from some health officials over the risks of socialising.
Boris Johnson will appear before MPs at noon for Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons, when his plans for tackling the variant will come in for further scrutiny.
The Government has tightened the rules around PCR tests for travellers returning to the UK and introduced quarantine rules for people from high-risk countries, as well as bringing back face coverings in shops and on public transport in England.
Mr Javid told Sky News: “I think people should continue to behave in the way they were planning to behave over Christmas, I don’t think there is any need to change those plans.”
Asked if people should take a Covid test before attending Christmas parties, Mr Javid said: “I would.”
He later told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you are invited to a Christmas party, there’s quite a few people there, maybe you want to take an LFT (lateral flow test) before you go.
“Go to the party, but just be cautious.”
Asked if he would wear a mask if he was at a party, Mr Javid said: “It depends if I am walking around or sitting down. It depends if I’m eating. People just need to make a decision based on the guidance.”
It comes as Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said some NHS organisations had asked staff “not to mix in big groups” in the run-up to Christmas owing to fears off staff absences.
She told Sky News this year was “very different” to last year when “it was absolutely clear that nobody was going to a Christmas party”.