'We have a chance to ride it out' - PM says no new restrictions planned

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covi

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced there will be no further restrictions at a Downing Street press conference today - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has announced there will be no new restrictions despite Covid infection rates reaching record levels across the country.  

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday evening, the prime minister said "we have a chance to ride out" the current wave of Omicron infections without "shutting down the country".

Plan B measures introduced in December will continue and it is hoped together with the booster campaign there will not be any need for lockdown restrictions.

Mr Johnson said: "Anyone who thinks our battle with Covid is over, I'm afraid is profoundly wrong. This is a moment for the utmost caution.

"But our position today differs from previous waves in two crucial respects.

“First, we now know that Omicron is milder than previous variants, so while hospital admissions are rising quickly, with over 15,000 Covid patients now in hospital in England alone, this is not yet, thankfully, translating into the same numbers needing intensive care that we saw in previous waves.

“Second, thanks to the fantastic national effort to get Britain boosted, we now have a substantial level of protection, higher than any of our European neighbours, with over 34 million boosters administered, including in England reaching more than 90pc of the over 70s and 86pc of the over 50s.

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“And so, together with the Plan B measures that we introduced before Christmas, we have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again.

“We can keep our schools and our businesses open and we can find a way to live with this virus.”

Critical workers covering areas such as food processing, transport and the Border Force will be offered daily lateral flow tests from January 10 in order to keep essential services open.

As of December 20, one in 25 people had tested positive for coronavirus and daily infection rates have risen to over 200,000.

Earlier today, the Royal College of Nursing said that NHS workers in England had been "reduced to tears" due to additional pressures after growing staff shortages caused by the Omicron variant.

While there are no plans currently to enforce new restrictions, this was not definitively ruled out.

The prime minister added: "“We will monitor everything very closely – we clearly can’t rule anything out.

“We think that this is the right approach to take. It’s a balanced approach. It has to balance a lot of considerations."