Don’t go to work, but do go to parties, says Boris Johnson

Immediate backlash at ‘irrational’ new Covid rules after Prime Minister moves England to Plan B

Omicron Variant, Coronavirus

12/9/2021 1:18:00 AM

❌Boris Johnson told millions of people to begin working from home next week, but said that they should still attend office Christmas parties with their colleagues

Immediate backlash at ‘irrational’ new Covid rules after Prime Minister moves England to Plan B

The Prime Minister announced tough new Plan B Covid rules, the biggest expansion in restrictions in England since January, at a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday night.Covid passports will be required to enter large venues for the first time from December 15, meaning that people will have to show proof of two vaccine doses or a negative test at entertainment venues.

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Wearing face masks will also become a legal necessity at most public indoor venues, from Friday, going much further than the current demand – though they will not be needed in pubs and restaurants.Workers will also be asked to begin working from home starting next Monday. However, Mr Johnson said that they should still attend Christmas parties, prompting suggestions that the new rules were illogical.

The press conference was called as the Prime Minister found himself embattled over allegations that a staff Christmas Party was held in Downing Street last year at a time when restrictions prohibited such gatherings.He rejected claims from some Tory MPs that the announcements had been brought forward to divert attention from the row. headtopics.com

Mr Johnson said he was acting because omicron cases in the UK were doubling every two to three days, with scientific estimates suggesting a million cases could be seen by the end of the month.The Prime Minister said: “While the picture may get better, and I sincerely hope that it will, we know the remorseless logic of exponential growth could lead to a big rise in hospitalisations, and therefore sadly in deaths.

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“And that is why it is now the proportionate and responsible thing to move to Plan B in England.”Discontent from the Tory benches over the new rules was already emerging on Wednesday night.One Tory MP shouted “Resign!” as Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, announced the measures to the House of Commons and others vowed to vote against vaccine passports.

Multiple government sources also told The Telegraph that some Cabinet ministers privately pushed back on Wednesday, with Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, raising concerns about the impact on the economy and what the “exit strategy” was.Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, is understood to have voiced fears consumer confidence could plummet, and Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, was said to be “uncomfortable” with the changes – though there were no Cabinet resignations.

It is unclear when the new restrictions could be lifted, with Mr Johnson expected to look again at the rules in January, though no fixed end date has been announced.Tougher rules, such as full lockdowns and social distancing, have not been adopted.Rules introduced amid Allegra Stratton fallout Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Johnson announced a probe into whether a Number 10 Christmas gathering last year broke lockdown rules, in a furore that led to the resignation of Allegra Stratton, his spokesman. headtopics.com

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Speaking on Wednesday night from the same podium on which Ms Stratton had joked about the alleged party in footage that leaked this week, the Prime Minister announced the new restrictions.“Since I last spoke to you, it’s become increasingly clear that omicron is growing much faster than the previous delta variant, and it’s spreading rapidly all around the world,” the Prime Minister said.

“Five hundred and sixty-eight cases have been confirmed through genomic sequencing across every region of the UK, and the true number is certain to be much higher. Most worryingly, there is evidence that the doubling time of omicron in the UK could currently be between two and three days.”

The decision to significantly tighten the rules, one the Prime Minister has resisted for months since the back-up plan was announced in September, applies to people in England only.There are four elements to it: new work from home guidance, the introduction of Covid passports, an expansion of face mask mandates and changes to isolation rules.

The work from home guidance will kick in on Monday, with Mr Johnson saying: “Go to work if you must, but work from home if you can.”Christmas parties allowed – but with ‘due caution’ However, when asked what his message was on Christmas parties and nativity plays, Mr Johnson said they should not be cancelled. headtopics.com

“We think it’s OK currently, on what we can see, to keep going with Christmas parties, but obviously everybody should exercise due caution.”The message repeats a position he took last week, but means people are now being urged to work from home if possible but also not to cancel Christmas parties, which critics said was confusing.

John Redwood, the Tory MP and former Welsh secretary, criticised the decision to both urge people to work from home next week but also not scrap Christmas parties.He said: “It doesn’t make any sense. It was clearly contradictory. The Government should think again.”

Andrew Bridgen, another Tory MP, said: “For a government which claims to follow the science, I think they’ve lost their marbles. The restrictions are incoherent and irrational.”The Prime Minister did urge people to take lateral flow tests, which are still available free from pharmacies, before attending such parties.

Covid passports return Covid passports will come into force in England next week. A change in the original plan has been adopted, with people able to show proof of a negative test as well as two doses of a Covid vaccine.They will be required for entry into nightclubs, most indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people.

The ability for venues to successfully apply the new rules remains an open question, with implementation of a similar policy in Scotland causing problems that resulted in a loosening of the requirements.A third area of change is face masks, which had just been legally required on public transport and in shops but will now apply to most public spaces.

Mr Johnson said places where “eating, drinking, exercising or singing” takes place would be exempt, given that wearing face masks there was not practical.Face masks in classrooms are not expected to be required, according to a Number 10 source.Moves to stave off another ‘pingdemic’ A move to counter concerns of a new “pingdemic” were also announced, with daily tests instead of a 10-day isolation needed if people come into contact with someone who has the omicron variant.

It should mean that those who test negative will not have to self-isolate, though it remained unclear exactly when the change would come into effect.A heated backlash to the Covid rules, fuelled by allegations of Number 10 rule-breaking at Christmas parties, was already building among backbench Tory MPs on Wednesday night.

Mark Harper, the chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, said that vaccine passports were “pointless and damaging”, adding: “Why should people listen to the Prime Minister’s instructions to follow the rules when people inside Number 10 Downing Street don’t do so?”

Will Wragg, the chairman of the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee, shouted out “Resign!” when Mr Javid confirmed the introduction of Covid passports in a speech to the House of Commons.Greg Clark, the former business secretary, accused Mr Javid of having “jumped the gun”, pointing out that last week he had assured MPs further restrictions would not be imposed based on rising infections alone.

A vote on the new restrictions will be held in Parliament next week.There was also a backlash from businesses, with the Federation of Small Businesses releasing a statement demanding “urgent” clarity on the new rules.

Read more: The Telegraph »

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This makes great sense right - not

What next for Boris Johnson after the No 10 party video?Footage of No 10 staff joking about a lockdown party has left even the PM's supporters stunned. I think the words you are searching for are: 'Johnson has lost all authority and trust I fail to see how he can continue. To restore trust in politics there must surely be an independent inquiry into standards in office and possibly a criminal investigation arising.' Nothing, absolutely nothing as the oleaginous oaf doesn't care what people think and doesn't think he should be held to account for anything ever. I think he’s done. He’s just so toxic. It’s hard to look at him now.

Boris Johnson set to introduce Plan B TODAY with work from home & jab passportsBORIS Johnson is poised to announce Plan B restrictions TODAY – meaning work from home and vaccine passports will be introduced imminently. Government sources told The Sun that the PM will br… Using a deadly pandemic to deflect from himself Oh, look! A squirrel.

Boris Johnson to face questions after footage reveals No 10 staff joking about 'Christmas party'Boris Johnson will face a day of difficult questions after footage emerged of Number 10 officials joking and laughing about a Christmas party in Downing Street last year during a time of strict COVID restrictions

Boris Johnson should quit if he misled parliament about party, Scots Tory leader saysBoris Johnson should resign if he misled parliament about an illegal Christmas party at Downing Street, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said.

Boris Johnson faces furious Tory revolt over 'illegal' Xmas partyBoris Johnson opened a raucous PMQs by saying sorry for the footage of his former press secretary and other staff joking about the gathering during lockdown.

Stanley Johnson seen without face mask AGAIN as Boris prepares Plan BEXCLUSIVE: The Prime Minister's father, 81, was seen wearing his blue disposable mask underneath his nose on the London Underground at around 2pm on Wednesday. As do all my older 'recalcitrant' relatives, I guess He appears to make his own rules up. Not a good example considering his son is Prime minister Oh no! Stop the world I want to get off.