COVID rules telling people to work from home and wear masks indoors will stay for another three weeks after Boris Johnson stuck with Plan B.
The PM today told MPs the measures were necessary to help fight “rapidly” rising Omicron cases and hospitalisations.
He told the Commons: “So in response to the latest data, the Cabinet agreed this morning that we should stick with Plan B for another three weeks, with a further review before the regulations expire on 26 January.”
But the PM all but ruled out returning to a full-fat lockdown and warned crippling restrictions would take a wrecking ball to livelihoods.
Essentially vowing they’d be no going back to the dark days of last year, he said: “Lockdowns are not cost free.
“They impose a devastating toll on our physical and mental wellbeing, on our businesses, jobs and livelihoods, and, worst of all, on the life chances of our children.
“So this government does not believe we need to shut down our country again.”
The PM stressed to Cabinet that Omicron is much milder than previous strains following a string of studies finding it cuts the risk of serious illness by up to 70 per cent.
He is confident that boosters give Brits the best chance of beating the virus and sent up another plea for people to get jabbed.
The Sun’s Jab’s Army campaign is helping turbo-charge the rollout by getting vital shots into arms.
In major developments:
Cabinet Ministers this morning to rubber-stamped the extension of Plan B measures, which are up for review today.
Mr Johnson told his top team “together with new evidence that Omicron is less severe than Delta, meant it was right to maintain the Plan B measures”.
Extending the controversial curbs do not require a vote in Parliament but Mr Johnson is bracing for more anger from Tory MPs who oppose them.
But lockdown-hating backbenchers were buoyed by his decision not to impose fresh restrictions.
At Downing St last night the PM said: “We can keep our schools and our businesses open, and we can find a way to live with this virus.”
He added the country has a “good chance of getting through the Omicron wave without the need for further restrictions” and ruled out a full-fat lockdown.
The PM warned our freedoms hinge on people getting vaccinated and begged the nine million un-boosted Brits to get jabbed.
In a sobering wake-up call he said “people are dying needlessly because they haven’t had their jabs, they haven’t had that booster”.
🔵 Follow our Covid live blog for all the latest updates
A record 218,000 new Covid cases were recorded yesterday as Mr Johnson said he was putting the NHS on a “war footing”.
And he announced plans for 100,000 critical workers to be fast-tracked for lateral flow tests to stop the country grinding to a halt.
Care Minister Gillian Keegan confirmed today that 350million tests would be made available in January and February.
She revealed a million Brits were currently isolating, which is causing widespread shortages in key sectors.
To streamline testing capacity, the PM is primed to announce that confirmatory PCRs will no longer be required for people testing positive on lateral flows.
Costly and complex travel rules requiring pre-departure tests are also set to be scrapped now Omicron is widespread globally.