Omicron: Masks and travel tests will be retained in the new year without a vote of MPs if necessary

Laws requiring face masks and costly travel checks will remain in place in the New Year without a Commons vote if necessary, No 10 said.

Ministers have vowed to dismantle Covid limited before Christmas if possible – but their scientific advisors warned It will take longer to assess the threat from omicron different.

Now Boris JohnsonHis spokesman said a decision could be made to widen the UK curbs – or even strengthen them further – after MPs leave Westminster for the Christmas holidays, next weekend. .

“We have the ability to make public health decisions in the interest of public health during the break as the public expects,” he said.

MPs will be updated next week, before the Commons recess begins on December 16, and Number 10 said they were “confident” that by then there would be fresh data on the omicron threat.

But the spokesperson admitted: “I cannot hypothesize what might happen during any future recess.”

The announcement will increase pressure from Conservative MPs to ask the House of Commons to postpone the recess, after dozens of people rebelled in last week’s vote.

On Tuesday, travel rules will be tightened with pre-departure checks to enter the UK, but the spokesman denied it meant it was inevitable that the restriction would be needed for long. more than three weeks of initial notice.

“We simply don’t have enough data, and neither does the rest of the world, to decide what the correct approach will be over the Christmas period and beyond,” he argues.

Face coverings are required in takeout stores, post offices, banks and building associations, beauty salons and pharmacists, as well as in shops, public transport and taxis.

Those who refuse will be fined an initial £200, rising to £400 for a second offense and £800 for a third breach – although a minister has agreed shops should not carry out a crackdown. pressure.

The Prime Minister said the emergency regulations would not be in place “for longer than a minute” than the three weeks that had been announced.

more later Omicron: Masks and travel tests will be retained in the new year without a vote of MPs if necessary


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