Dec 19, 2021 - Health

U.K. health minister doesn't rule out new COVID restrictions before Christmas

Coronavirus signage outside the ground ahead of the Premier League match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday December 19, 2021

Coronavirus signage outside the Premier League match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Dec. 19. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

U.K. health minister Sajid Javid on Sunday refused to rule out the possibility of new coronavirus restrictions ahead of Christmas, telling the BBC on Sunday that "at this point, we just have to keep everything under review."

Why it matters: The new Omicron variant has driven a surge of COVID-19 cases in the U.K., with daily infections reaching new record numbers this week.

What they're saying: Asked if he would rule out a "circuit breaker" — a short but strict lockdown — or other restrictions ahead of the holiday, Javid said, "There are no guarantees in this pandemic, I don't think."

  • "At this point, we just have to keep everything under review."

The big picture: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was presented with a variety of options Friday to deal with the surging case numbers, ranging from more tempered guidances to a full lockdown, per Politico.

  • Current restrictions in the U.K. require residents to wear masks indoors and show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test to attend a nightclub or large event.
  • Ministers are set to propose a two-week ban on indoor meetings, but the measure hasn't garnered Johnson's support, The Times reported Saturday.

State of play: The U.K. isn't the only country mulling new measures ahead of the holidays to slow Omicron's spread.

  • Italy's government is considering new measures that would require vaccinated individuals to show a negative COVID-19 test to access crowded places, like stadiums, cinemas and clubs, Reuters reported.
  • Masks may also be required outdoors, per Reuters.

Worth noting: Germany's national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, announced Saturday it is tightening travel restrictions for visitors from the U.K.

  • Travelers arriving in Germany from the U.K. will be required to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of their vaccination status. The U.K. will remain on the "areas of variants of concern" list until Jan. 3.
  • Travelers will also be asked to present an up-to-date PCR test if they were in an area of variants of concern in the 10 days prior to arriving in Germany, the institute added.
  • In addition, a new travel notice from the U.K. government notes that only German citizens and residents will be able to travel from the U.K. to Germany.
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