Minister Reveals He’s Cancelled Work Christmas Party Amid Omicron Concerns

A government minister has revealed he has cancelled his work Christmas party amid omicron concerns.

Science minister George Freeman said he and his staff would instead be marking the festive season via Zoom.

It comes after a split emerged between the government and a scientific adviser over socialising.

Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency, said people should try to reduce their social contacts in a bid to slow the spread of the omicron variant.

However, Boris Johnson has insisted he does not want people cancelling Christmas social events.

Asked what he made of work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey advising people to avoid “snogging under the mistletoe” this Christmas, Freeman told LBC: “I haven’t been kissed under the mistletoe for years.”

He added: “We’re trying not to tell everyone who they should kiss or where they should go.

“I think Therese Coffey was making the point that we’re all going to have to exercise some common sense and I think the British public know that, in the end, it is up to all of us.

“If we can prevent the virus from spreading, we’ll all be able to enjoy more freedoms and that’s why we have taken the steps we have.

“I can tell you that my parliamentary team and I normally have a Christmas party.

“We’ve decided this year that it is probably sensible to do it by Zoom and wait for the spring. It won’t be the best party in the world.

“But we don’t want to be telling every individual business what they should or shouldn’t be doing. It is a matter for them.”

Asked earlier in the week what he would say to schools scaling back nativity plays and people dropping out of Christmas social events, the prime minister said: “We don’t want people to cancel such events.

“We think that overwhelmingly the best thing for kids is to be in school, as I’ve said many times throughout this pandemic.”

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