UK lockdown warning: Britain could face ANOTHER shutdown – Sajid Javid sounds alarm
Boris Johnson confirms government is sticking with Plan B
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The Health Secretary is understood to have warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson before holiday checks were eased this week – but was overruled, according to The Sun. Travellers received a welcome boost this week with the announcement pore-departure and PCR tests are being axed for arrivals into Britain as the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant of Covid is now so widespread. Cabinet sub-committee Covid O signed off the key changes on Wednesday.
Deaths and patients in intensive care have remained low because of a combination of Omicron being a much milder variant and the continued success of Britain’s booster programme.
But Mr Javid was reported to be strongly against the easing of the travel rules amid fears it could harm the country’s ability to spot further variants.
A Government source told The Times: “Sajid was very unhappy about the decision to remove the requirement for PCR tests.
“He argued they are instrumental in spotting new variants sooner.
“He said that by scrapping them you increase the risk of having to shut down the entire economy. But he lost the argument.”
An ally of the Health Secretary said: “We have a decision and he’s fully behind that.”
Covid cases have been hovering just below 200,000 each day, driven by the rapid spread of Omicron.
But Mr Johnson has so far ruled out a return to full lockdown and earlier this week declared in a press briefing he’s not “shutting down our country again”.
As a result of the country; successful vaccine rollout and evidence to suggest Omicron is a much milder variant, he wants to take Britain “much closer to normality”.
The UK Government is reportedly becoming increasingly hopeful of scrapping current Plan B measures when they are reviewed at the end of this month.
A senior Government source told The Sun the Cabinet is behind an ambition to cut restrictions – except for Mr Javid, who is a “lone voice” against.
They said: “It’s understandable that he takes that view given he has hospitals and medics constantly on at him.
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“But no one else wants to see them extended while the data is in our favour.”
Business minister Paul Scully insisted the Government “doesn’t see the need” for additional measures – despite around 200 troops being sent to hospitals to help fill absences of staff off sick or currently isolating.
He highlighted “encouraging” signs London is now over the peak of the outbreak.
Mr Scully told TalkRadio: “Having the army working within our hospitals is having extra bodies to cope with NHS pressures.
“It’s not the army on the streets in combat and weapons or anything like that. It’s actually just helping those staff pressures.
“We’re not over it, in terms of the fact that we’re learning to live with Covid.
“But I’m hoping that 2022, if we get past these next few weeks of pressure, is looking far brighter than 2021.”
He added: “I don’t believe at this stage that we need any more lockdowns.
“What we are doing today is announcing the fact that the money for hospitality, retail, leisure and accommodation is available now for those businesses who have been hard-pressed throughout this pandemic, and especially that Christmas period when Plan B came in, for those businesses to be able to approach their local authorities and get the financial support they need.”
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