Boris Johnson announcement: PM says nation 'can ride out Omicron' WITHOUT lockdown as Plan B continues amid jab rollout

PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has said that England WILL continue with Plan B measures in a press conference this evening – and that Britain can "ride out the Omicron wave".

Speaking at Downing Street conference at 5pm, Mr Johnson said: “Together with the Plan B measures, we have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country again.

“We can keep our schools and our businesses open and find a way to live with this virus.”

The Prime Minister also pointed out that we can "enjoy our freedoms in the teeth of Omicron thanks to boosters" – and urged the unvaccinated to get jabbed.

It comes after new figures on Monday revealed hospital admissions have fallen in London for the first time since the Omicron variant emerged.

Read our Covid-19 live blog for the latest news and updates…

  • Milica Cosic

    Plans to call in ARMY

    SOLDIERS may be deployed to ease the wave of crippling key worker absences fuelled by Omicron.

    Government departments covering crucial industries have modelled worst-case scenarios for shortages.

    They have even been told to map out when they are likely to need the help of the military, according to The Times.

    Troops could be asked to drive ambulances or beef up Border Force personnel if the situation gets so bad.

  • Milica Cosic

    Killer immune cells CAN mount robust attack against Omicron

    KILLER immune cells can mount a robust attack against Omicron and will fight the strain when antibodies fail to, new findings show.

    Scientists said the super-spreading variant was unlikely to evade T-cells, which are white blood cells produced after infection or vaccination.

    They form part of hidden defences against the virus which are not as easily studied like antibodies are. 

    Various studies have shown that antibodies, the body’s first line of defence against Covid, are not as strong against Omicron as they would be against other strains.

    However, today’s findings add to a string of hugely positive studies about Omicron, including those that say it is milder.

    Read more here.

  • Joseph Gamp

    The rules around face masks

    Mr Johnson also urged Brits to continue wearing face masks in public spaces.

    Ministers reintroduced mandatory face coverings in some areas, most notably public transport, on November 30.

    But in December the PM extended that to more settings amid concern over the rapid spread of Omicron.

    Brits are still required to wear face masks in the following places:

    • While on public transport including trains, buses, and the London Underground
    • At transport hubs like train stations and airports
    • All retail shops such as clothes stores and supermarkets
    • Large entertainment venues like cinemas, theatres, and bowling alleys
    • While in all places of worship
    • At hairdressers, beauty parlours, tattoo studios, and nail bars
    • When visiting the post office or bank
    • In the offices of estate agents
    • At vet surgeries
    • Whilst waiting for orders at takeaway restaurants
    • In pharmacies and medical settings like hospitals
    • At auction houses
    • Whilst taking a ride in a taxi
    • During driving lessons and tests
    • Joseph Gamp

      Omicron milder than other strains, studies show

      The UK is fighting to stop a rapid rise of Omicron cases crippling the country as workers are forced into isolation or struggle to access a test.

      But a string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.

      Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

      The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.

    • Joseph Gamp

      PM: We can ride out this Omicron wave without total shutdown

      Speaking tonight, Mr Johnson said: "This is a moment for the utmost caution, but our position today differs from previous waves.

      "We know now Omicron is milder than previous variants, and while hospital admissions are rising quickly, with over 15,000 patients in hospitals in England alone, this is not yet thankfully translating into the same number needing intensive care."

      He said there's a chance we can "ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again".

      "We can keep schools and businesses open and find a way to live with this virus, but the weeks ahead are going to be challenging, both here in the UK and across the world," he said.

    • Joseph Gamp

      Lockdown ruled out by PM

      Boris this evening confirmed that he has ruled out another lockdown.

      The PM yesterday said Omicron is "plainly milder" than previous variants following studies showing it is up to 70 per cent less severe.

      A third jab also significantly slashes the risk of falling seriously ill – and The Sun's Jab's Army campaign is helping get vital boosters in people's arms.

    • Joseph Gamp

      Headteachers warn of disruption amid staff shortages

      Children across the nation are returning to school this week – but heads have warned of disruption as teachers are forced to self-isolate.

      And Mr Johnson warned this evening: "Anyone who thinks the battle with Covid is over, I'm afraid, is profoundly wrong."

      However, there was cheering news too – with Professor Chris Whitty confirming booster doses provide 88 per cent of "overall protection against being hospitalised".

    • Joseph Gamp

      Retired teachers will be called up to help keep schools open 

      RETIRED teachers are being called up to help keep classes open – amid fears surging Omicron cases will force kids back to home schooling.

      Boris Johnson has tonight used his address to the nation to urge former teachers to return to the fray.

      But he vowed to keep schools open if every Brit "plays their part".

      "We've asked qualified teachers who have left the profession to come back and help fill temporary absences," he said.

      "I want to thank them and all teachers, parents and pupils for taking the precaution to test yourselves and to wear a mask in the classroom, enabling vital face to face education to continue."

    • Joseph Gamp

      What happened during tonight's press conference?

      At tonight's press briefing the PM all but ruled out fresh restrictions over the coming months.

      He said: "I would say we have a good chance of getting through the Omicron wave without the need for further restrictions – and without the need certainly for a lockdown."

      The PM said he would recommend to Cabinet tomorrow that the nation should retain Plan B measures of masks, working from home and Covid passes.

    • Joseph Gamp
      • A record 218,000 cases were recorded today as Omicron spiked
      • 100,000 critical workers will be fast-tracked for lateral flow tests
      • Millions of pupils will wore masks in classrooms today as they returned
      • Scientists were "cautiously optimistic" that Covid was flattening in London
      • Ministers played down fears the booster rollout was slowing down
      • A vaccines guru said the worst days of pandemic are "behind us".

      PM to toughen domestic definition of 'fully vaccinated'

      The PM is also toughening the domestic definition of "fully-vaccinated" to include boosters to help turbocharge the rollout and beat back Omicron.

      It means footie fans and nightclubbers will soon need all three jabs on their Covid passport.

      But he promised it will not come into force until everyone has had a realistic chance of getting their boosters.

      There are droves of people who want a vaccine but are being forced to wait weeks after being infected over Christmas.

      The PM also confirmed he was holding off imposing any fresh restrictions and is instead sticking with Plan B, which includes vaccine passports. 

      He is also betting big on the booster rollout, which the Sun's Jab's Army campaign is helping by getting shots in arms.

      Brits will soon need three jabs to travel abroad quarantine-free

      HOLIDAYMAKERS will soon need all three jabs to jet abroad without having to quarantine, Boris Johnson warned tonight.

      At a Downing St press conference the PM hovered the risk of travel curbs over the nine million eligible Brits who still have not been boosted

      He said: "It's already the case that to travel to some countries you need a booster to be considered fully vaccinated.

      "And it's likely that within weeks this will increasingly become the norm."

      Boris Johnson sticking with Plan B

      Boris Johnson has backed sticking with Plan B measures as he hopes to "ride out" the massive wave of Omicron cases without lockdown restrictions despite warnings the NHS is under significant pressure.

      The Prime Minister said anyone who believes the battle against the disease is over is "profoundly wrong" as he confirmed he would advocate to his Cabinet the need to stick with work-from-home guidance, mask-wearing and the use of Covid health passes.

      With daily lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in England exceeding 200,000 for the first time, Mr Johnson said now is the time for the "utmost caution" but argued the booster rollout has given substantial protection to the nation.

      "So together with the Plan B measures that we introduced before Christmas we have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again," he told a Downing Street press conference.

      "We can keep our schools and our businesses open and we can find a way to live with this virus."

      PM: 'Absolutely crazy' unvaccinated people are ending up in ICU

      Boris Johnson has said it is "absolutely crazy" that people are ending up in intensive care with Covid because they have not been vaccinated.

      "How absolutely crazy it is, absolutely crazy, that there are two million slots this week for people to get vaccinated and yet the majority of people in ICU for Covid are not vaccinated – 61%," he told a Downing Street news conference.

      "It is sad but it is also a huge opportunity for us to correct it."

      Professor Sir Chris Whitty said he was "saddened" by the numbers of unvaccinated people in intensive care.

      "The great majority of them are not anti-vaxxers in ordinary sense with some really weird ideas," he said.

      He said that people wanted to know if disease important enough to warrant vaccination and whether the vaccines were effective. At the same time he said there was "misinformation" on the internet "a lot of it deliberately placed" about the potential side effects of the jabs.

      "In so far as I am frustrated it is simply people deliberately trying to scare away fellow citizens from something that is potentially going to be life-saving for them," he said.

      Sajid Javid defends Covid plan with NHS braced for difficult winter

      The NHS is facing significant pressure as it copes with the latest wave of Covid-19 despite hopes that cases should start to drop in the coming weeks.

      Boris Johnson will lead a Downing Street press conference as No 10 admitted that the health service is facing a "difficult time" during a "challenging winter".

      But Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there was nothing in the data that suggested England needed to move beyond the current Plan B restrictions.

      "I think Plan B, implementing that, has been the right approach and also being absolutely focused on the vaccination programme," he told reporters during a visit to a vaccination centre in south London.

      Officials in Whitehall are keeping an "extremely close eye" on hospital capacity, with admissions and occupancy "increasing significantly", Downing Street said.

      But the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We're not seeing that same jump in beds requiring ventilation, which is pleasing, and almost certainly a function of both the nature of Omicron and our successful booster programme."

      • Joseph Gamp

        'No answer to a problem like Omicron'

        Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is "no easy answer to a problem like Omicron" and "there is no easy lockdown".

        He said: "There's no easy restriction on people's lives or livelihoods. And the best thing I think we can do now is to continue to follow the guidance, protect our NHS in the way that that we are, increase the support that we're giving to the NHS and as you know, you've heard from what I said earlier on, we're increasing the numbers of staff, we have got a record number of people working in the NHS now than at any time in the past."

        Mr Johnson added that the Government will continue to "watch what happens very closely", but noted: "We think that this is the right approach to take. It's a balanced approach. It has to balance a lot of considerations.

        "It has to balance the the effect on people's lives and livelihoods of lockdowns, which are painful, which take away people's life chances and which do a great deal of social damage, damage to people's mental health as well as damage to the economy.

        "So it's a difficult balance to strike. But that is that is where we are."

      • Joseph Gamp

        Our position now is much better than previous waves

        Mr Johnson said: "Our position today differs from previous waves in two crucial respects.

        "First, we now know that Omicron is milder than previous variants, so while hospital admissions are rising quickly, with over 15,000 Covid patients now in hospital in England alone, this is not yet, thankfully, translating into the same numbers needing intensive care that we saw in previous waves.

        "Second, thanks to the fantastic national effort to get Britain boosted, we now have a substantial level of protection, higher than any of our European neighbours, with over 34 million boosters administered, including in England reaching more than 90% of the over 70s and 86% of the over 50s.

        "And so, together with the Plan B measures that we introduced before Christmas, we have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again.

        "We can keep our schools and our businesses open and we can find a way to live with this virus."

      • Joseph Gamp

        'Chance' extra restrictions will not be needed'

        The Prime Minister said, despite the high number of coronavirus cases being recorded in the UK, there was a "chance" extra restrictions would not be needed in England.

        Boris Johnson told a press briefing in Downing Street: "But our position today differs from previous waves in two crucial respects.

        "First, we now know that Omicron is milder than previous variants, so while hospital admissions are rising quickly, with over 15,000 Covid patients now in hospital in England alone, this is not yet, thankfully, translating into the same numbers needing intensive care that we saw in previous waves.

        "Second, thanks to the fantastic national effort to get Britain boosted, we now have a substantial level of protection, higher than any of our European neighbours, with over 34 million boosters administered, including in England reaching more than 90% of the over 70s and 86% of the over 50s.

        "And so, together with the Plan B measures that we introduced before Christmas, we have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again.

        "We can keep our schools and our businesses open and we can find a way to live with this virus."

      • Joseph Gamp

        PM: 'Anyone who thinks battle is over is wrong'

        The PM said: "Previous waves of the pandemic didn't have a single day of more than 100,000 cases.

        "Anyone who thinks our battle with Covid is over is profoundly wrong.

        "We know now that Omicron is milder than previous variants, so while hospital admissions are rising quickly, this is not yet translating into the same number needing intensive care that we saw in previous waves."

      • Joseph Gamp

        PM: We can ride out this Omicron wave

        Mr Johnson said: "Together with the Plan B measures, we have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country again.

        "We can keep our schools and our businesses open and find a way to live with this virus."

      • Joseph Gamp

        Around 100,000 critical workers to have daily tests

        The PM said: "The weeks ahead are going to be challenging. There is no escaping the fact that some services will be disrupted by staff absences.

        "We've been working through Christmas to prepare for this where possible.

        "The Government is acting to protect critical national services to keep supply chains open and fortify our NHS to withstand the pressures ahead.

        "We've identified 100,000 in areas from food processing, to transport, to border force and from January 10, we'll be rolling out lateral flow testing to all these workers on every working day.

        "We'll be sending testing kits directly to these organisations and liaising with them on the logistics."

      • Joseph Gamp

        PM: People dying needlessly because of no jab

        Mr Johnson says its heartbreaking that people are "needlessly dying because they haven't had their jabs".

        There ware two million booster slots this week alone, says the PM.

      • Joseph Gamp

        Plan B to continue with no new restrictions, says PM

        Mr Johnson is asking people to continue to observe current rules.

        He also pleaded: "Please, please get boosted."

        Our freedoms in the "teeth of the Omicron pandemic have all been made possible thanks to the vaccine".

      • Joseph Gamp

        PM: 2,500 virtual beds being made available

        The PM says Nightingale hospitals are being built.

        2,500 virtual beds where people can be treated from home.

      • Joseph Gamp

        We can stop Omicron without shutting down

        The PM says we can find a way to live with this virus.

        We need to all play our part in stopping the virus.

        It will stop disruption.

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