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Will there be a lockdown before or after Christmas?

As Omicron cases soar across the UK, it has left many people wondering if there will be a Christmas lockdown, either before or after the day itself. 

The UK has recorded 12 deaths from the Omicron variant and 45,145 confirmed cases.

This has spiked fears that further social restrictions could be imposed as we head towards Christmas, as they were in 2020.

After a meeting of the Cabinet on Monday afternoon, Boris Johnson said he had to “reserve the possibility” that further action would be needed.

He added that there are “still some things that we need to be clearer about before we decide to go further”.

“Unfortunately I must say to people that we will have to reserve the possibility of taking further action to protect the public, to protect public health, to protect our NHS,” he added.

“We are looking at all kinds of things to keep Omicron under control and we will rule nothing out.”

World Health Organisation spokeswoman Dr Margaret Harris has been quoted as saying that gatherings which are not safe this Christmas should not go ahead, adding: “If you have a large number of people, especially from different places, you don’t know what their exposure has been”.

On Saturday, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in the capital.

Mr Khan said: “The surge in cases of the Omicron variant across our capital is hugely concerning, so we are once again declaring a major incident because of the threat of Covid-19 to our city.

“The Omicron variant has quickly become dominant with cases increasing rapidly and the number of patients in our hospitals with Covid-19 on the rise again.

“We are already feeling the impact across the capital and while we are still learning about this variant, it’s right that London’s key agencies work closely together to minimise the impact on our city, including helping to protect the vital vaccination programme.”

Today, Rishi Sunak has unveiled a brand new £1 billion support package to businesses hit by Covid restrictions. It is understood that Boris Johnson wants a few more days to assess data on hospital admissions and the severity of the Omicron strain. This time will allow us to find out how well vaccines protect against serious illness caused by the variant.