No ‘snogging under the mistletoe’ says cabinet minister: Boris’s team branded ‘Christmas killjoys’

No ‘snogging under the mistletoe’ says cabinet minister: Pensions secretary Therese Coffey tells festive revellers to keep their distance from each other – as Boris’s team are branded ‘Christmas killjoys’ for suggesting tests before parties

  • Senior ministers sparked anger from hospitality bosses over their festive advice
  • Health minister Sajid Javid urged partygoers to make sure they take Covid tests
  • Therese Coffey said there should be no ‘snogging under the mistletoe’ this year

Ministers were told not to be ‘Christmas killjoys’ last night after festive events were cancelled because of the Omicron variant.

Sajid Javid was the first to spark anger from hospitality bosses after he urged partygoers to take a Covid test.

The Health Secretary even suggested they should consider wearing a face mask.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey then went further, saying there ‘shouldn’t be much snogging under the mistletoe’.

It emerged last night that office Christmas parties were already being postponed and employees told to work from home amid fears over the new strain.

A string of hotels and restaurants revealed they faced losing thousands of pounds from lost bookings.

Sajid Javid

Ministers including Therese Coffey (left) and Sajid Javid (right) were told not to be ‘ Christmas killjoys’ last night after festive events were cancelled because of the Omicron variant

Anyone in close contact with an Omicron case must now self-isolate for ten days, even if doubled jabbed.

The new rule is thought to have left bosses worried that an outbreak at an event could put multiple staff in quarantine.

Hospitality chiefs and Tory MPs believe the mixed messages – Boris Johnson has said people should ‘keep living your life’ – was having a ‘chilling effect on consumer confidence’.

Steve Baker, who spoke out against new coronavirus curbs in the Commons on Tuesday, said the public needed ‘clarity, not Christmas killjoys’.

The Tory former minister added: ‘People are sick and tired of this level of micromanagement of their lives. They want to be free and joyful, and they want to be free and joyful at Christmas – without the Christmas killjoys.’

Work and Pensions secretary Therese Coffey said there ¿shouldn¿t be much snogging under the mistletoe¿ this Christmas as senior ministers were accused of Christmas killjoys

Work and Pensions secretary Therese Coffey said there ‘shouldn’t be much snogging under the mistletoe’ this Christmas as senior ministers were accused of Christmas killjoys

World Health Organisation officials suggested yesterday that those diagnosed with Omicron so far mostly had no symptoms or only ‘very, very mild’ ones.

None of the 32 confirmed cases in the UK has been hospitalised. However, ministers have already brought back face masks in shops and on public transport and toughened self-isolation rules. The booster rollout is also to be rapidly accelerated.

In a string of other developments:

  • The UK has bought 114million more doses of coronavirus vaccines that can be tweaked to protect against new variants;
  • Some routine medical checks by GPs are likely to be suspended so they can deliver more booster jabs;
  • Leaked minutes from a meeting of the Sage advisory committee revealed that advisers were pushing for much tougher restrictions on travel;
  • Doctors said 16 of the 19 cases of Omicron in Botswana – where it was discovered – were asymptomatic;
  • European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen suggested mandatory vaccination might be necessary;
  • A council in York told residents to wear masks in busy outdoor areas in response to the variant;
  • Mr Johnson denied breaking coronavirus rules at a ‘boozy’ party in No 10 during lockdown last Christmas;
  • Another 48,374 Covid cases and 171 deaths were reported yesterday.

Public health chief Jenny Harries sparked a row on Tuesday by advising against ‘unnecessary socialising’ in the run-up to Christmas. The Prime Minister later contradicted her, telling people not to cancel festive events.

But last night it was claimed that staff working for NHS trusts, for magazines and even Age UK were among those to have had their Christmas parties cancelled. Many large employers are either telling employees to return to working from home or advancing Covid security measures in the office.

Kate Nicholls, of the trade body UK Hospitality, said: ‘The messaging over the weekend had a chilling effect on consumer confidence and we are starting to see a small number of cancellations.’

Mike Cherry of the Federation of Small Businesses said: ‘As we embark in earnest on this make-or-break festive season, clarity, consistency and proactive promotion of official advice is more important than ever.’

But Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Sage advisory group, told Times Radio that people should consider avoiding Christmas parties or at least wearing masks.


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