Tighter Covid restrictions could reportedly be announced for England as omicron spreads

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives an update on the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street on March 18, 2021 in London, England.

Tolga Akmen – WPA Pool | Getty Images

LONDON — The U.K. government could be poised to announced more Covid restrictions for England amid concerns over the spread of the omicron variant, according to a report in the Financial Times on Wednesday.


The paper, which cited three unnamed senior Whitehall officials, said the sources had told the newspaper that the government had decided to implement its so-called “Plan B” of increased restrictions, including vaccine passports for large venues and an order to work from home.

The new restrictions could be announced at a press conference as early as Wednesday with regulations laid before Parliament on Thursday, according to government insiders speaking to the paper.

CNBC has contacted Downing Street for comment but is yet to receive a response.

The move comes amid widespread concerns over the increasing number of omicron Covid cases in the U.K., where official data suggests that 1,000 people a day are being infected by the variant.

Experts have commented this week that it could be a matter of weeks, rather than months, before it usurps the globally dominant delta variant.

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Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, an influential epidemiologist among a cohort of experts advising the British government on Covid, told The Times newspaper Tuesday that early data suggests the number of omicron cases are doubling every “three days or less.”

Critics of the government are likely to see any introduction of more restrictive measures as a way to distract public attention from widespread news coverage of an alleged Christmas party that took place in Downing Street last year which breached Covid rules.

Downing Street denies that any party took place, but a video has been obtained by broadcaster ITV showing senior Downing Street staff joking about holding a Christmas party and how they might answer press questions about it.

The emergence of a video in which staff are joking about the Christmas party, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted never took place, could further undermine public confidence in the government and adherence to Covid restrictions.

This is a breaking news story, please check for further updates.

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