New Year’s Eve parties have been given the green light to go ahead in England as it’s confirmed no new Covid-19 restrictions will be brought in before the end of 2021.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced on Monday (27 December) there will be no limits on social mixing beyond the Plan B measures that are currently in place.
While the move was welcomed by hospitality bosses, there are fears that fresh restrictions will instead be put in place in the New Year in a bid to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.
What’s been said?
In a social media post on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that there would be “no new restrictions introduced in England before the New year”.
The tweet came just after Mr Javid urged people to “remain cautious” during celebrations to mark the arrival of 2022, with partygoers advised to take a lateral flow test before meeting up with others, and meet outside where possible to reduce the risk of infection.
The Health Secretary said: “We look at the data on a daily basis, that hasn’t changed over the Christmas period, but there will be no further measures before the new year.
“We won’t be taking any further measures, of course people should remain cautious as we approach new year celebrations and take a lateral flow test if that makes sense, celebrate outdoors if you can, have some ventilation indoors if you can.
“Please remain cautious and when we get into the new year of course we will see then if we do need to take any further measures but nothing more until then, at least.”
The decision not to impose further rules means that nightclubs will be able to stay open in England for people to ring in the New Year, while pubs won’t have to put limits on the number of visitors.
However, Covid passes will still be mandatory for large events under Plan B rules, meaning people will have to show proof of their vaccination status, or a recent negative test.
The Covid passes apply to indoor events with 500 or more people, such as music venues, certain outdoor events, such as music festivals, and any events with 10,000 or more people.
Face masks are also still mandatory in most indoor public settings, as well as on public transport, and people have been told to work from home if they can.
What about the rest of the UK?
While the lack of new restrictions in England will come as a welcome relief to those who are looking forward to ringing in the New Year, elsewhere in the UK rules are much stricter.
In Wales and Scotland, curbs on hospitality have been put in place, including the closure of nightclubs from Boxing Day.
The Welsh government has said groups of no more than six people will be allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants, and licensed premises will have to offer table service only.
Sporting events will also be played behind closed doors and a maximum of 30 people can attend indoor events, and a maximum of 50 people at outdoor events.
Scotland has also imposed limits on events, including a one-metre social distancing rule and a maximum of 100 attendees standing indoors, 200 people sitting indoors and 500 people outdoors.
One-metre physical distancing is in place in all indoor hospitality and leisure settings, and table service is required where alcohol is being served.
Since 14 December people have been asked to reduce their social contact as much as possible by meeting in groups of no more than three households.
Similar rules are in place in Northern Ireland, with people required to remain seated for table service in hospitality venues, and table numbers are limited to six.
Nightclubs will be closed on New Year’s Eve and dancing will also be prohibited in hospitality venues, although this will not apply to weddings.
Ministers agreed that sporting events can continue with no limits on capacity, but social mixing in a domestic setting has been limited to just three households from 27 December.