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New year parties given go-ahead in England as UK splits over Omicron controls

New Year’s Eve parties have been given the green light in England as ministers announced there will be no new coronavirus restrictions imposed before the end of 2021.

In a move welcomed by hospitality bosses, Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced there will be no curbs on social mixing beyond the current Plan B measures.

But the Cabinet minister, in a move that appeared to be echoed by the Prime Minister, left the door open for fresh measures to be potentially introduced in January.

Boris Johnson tweeted on Monday there would be “no new restrictions introduced in England before the New Year”.

It came after Mr Javid urged people to “remain cautious” during celebrations to mark the arrival of 2022, recommending partygoers take a test and stay outside where possible to minimise the risk of infection.

“Please remain cautious and when we get into the new year, of course, we will see then whether we do need to take any further measures, but nothing more until then, at least,” added the Health Secretary.

With pubs, bars and restaurants hard hit in the run-up to Christmas due to mass cancellations over Omicron variant fears, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the decision to not go beyond Plan B measures in England presented a “lifeline” for the sector.

Mark Davyd, chief executive of Music Venue Trust, told the PA news agency there would “obviously be some relief” among hospitality bosses but called for help to improve ventilation in venues along with “more clarity” on the Government’s long-term vision.

The decision on restrictions, which came after the Prime Minister had been briefed on the latest Covid data by chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, means nightclubs can remain open for Friday’s partying and there will be no limits on numbers in pubs.

Covid passes will be mandatory for large events, as per Plan B rules, which also include work from home guidance and increased mask wearing in public places.

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