Politics

Omicron POLL: Who is right on Covid rules – Boris or Sturgeon?

Boris Johnson takes swipe at Sturgeon and Drakeford

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Boris Johnson will not implement any new restrictions in England before January 1, meanwhile Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have analysed the same Covid data and introduced further restrictions. There was a record high of 183,000 positive Covid cases confirmed in the UK on Wednesday – the figure included some delayed results from Christmas.

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The new variant now accounts for 90 percent of all Covid cases. However, hospitalisations remain over three times lower than they were in January, 2021.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Monday: “Whilst we should all remain cautious, we don’t think there’s any need for any further measures until the New Year.”

Mr Javid and the Prime Minister have emphasised the importance of getting your booster jab and testing before meet-ups, but PCR tests and Lateral Flow tests have run out across England.

When asked why Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have analysed the same data and introduced more measures, the Health Secretary emphasised that it is for each government to make decisions.

Members of the Conservative Party said that the data did not justify taking further measures yet and said that the Labour government in Wales and the SNP in Scotland had over-reacted to the threat.

Backbench MP Andrew Bridgen, who has campaigned against new Covid restrictions, said: “Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford have let Scotland and Wales down badly and shown their true authoritarian nature.

“It’s time for the Government in Westminster to lead, no more Covid restrictions. It’s official that Omicron is mild.”

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Tom Hunt, MP for Ipswich added that no new restrictions was the “correct decision”.

“I really hope we’re approaching the point where we can permanently turn our backs on the kind of illiberal and draconian rules that are now in place in Scotland and Wales.

“If the Scottish and Welsh Governments want to introduce new restrictions that cause significant economic harm that’s their right. However, they should be prepared to front up to their own electorates and explain how they’re going to pay for it,” he said.

In Wales, new restrictions brought in from Boxing Day include:

  • Only 6 people can meet in public places.
  • You must keep 2m apart from people in offices and public places.
  • New mask rules for businesses to protect customers and staff.
  • Up to 30 people can attend indoor events.
  • Up to 50 people can attend outdoor events.
  • Nightclubs have closed.

In Northern Ireland from December 27:

  • Nightclubs have closed.
  • Dancing in all hospitality venues will not be allowed.
  • All indoor standing events will not be allowed.
  • Household mixing should be reduced to a maximum of 3 households.
  • You must keep 2m apart from people in offices and public places.
  • Work from home where possible.
  • New mask rules for businesses to protect customers and staff.
  • The exemption of wearing a face covering where it causes severe stress will be removed and the onus of proving an exemption on medical grounds will be on the individual.
  • Only 6 people can meet in public places.
  • Masks should be worn at all indoor seated and all outdoor events, Lateral Flow tests should be taken before attending, and there should be no multi-household travel in the same vehicle.

In Scotland, until at least January 17:

  • Nightclubs have closed.
  • No more than three households mixing at hospitality and leisure venues.
  • Public events limited to up to 100 people at indoor standing events, up to 200 people at indoor seated events, and up to 500 people at either seated or standing outdoor events.
  • Table service only at bars and pubs.

Ms Sturgeon has called on Mr Johnson to lend “the type and scale of financial support available earlier in the pandemic that can only come from the UK government – because it has borrowing powers that the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments simply do not have”.

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In England, Britons continue on as normal but have been encouraged by the Prime Minister to get their booster jabs as soon as possible and to take a Lateral Flow test before seeing friends and family.

Wes Streeting, the Shadow Health Secretary, said Mr Johnson’s plea for people to take lateral flows when there were significant shortages showed “spectacular incompetence”.

“Congratulations to Boris Johnson who has managed to appear on television today urging people to get tested when people are struggling to access them.

“People are trying to do the right thing, follow the Government’s own advice, and test themselves regularly, but are prevented by the Conservative Government’s incompetence,” he said.

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