A UK government minister has warned Brits against the tradition of “snogging under the mistletoe” this Christmas.
Or more specifically, “snogging” anyone you do not know.
In the wake of the government being accused of delivering mixed messages, Work and Pensions Secretary, and Conservative MP Therese Coffey said in an interview with ITV’s Robert Peston on his political talk show yesterday that people should try to keep socially distanced from one another where possible this festive season, in a bid to curb the spread of the new Omicron variant.
Ms Coffey said that said all kissing with those “you don’t already know” should be avoided.
When questioned by Peston on whether Brits should consider being “cautious” over Christmas socialising, Therese Coffey responded: “I don’t think there should be much snogging under the mistletoe.
“[We] don’t need to do things like that, but I think we should all be trying to enjoy the Christmas ahead of us and that’s why we’re working so hard to get the deployment of as many vaccines as possible, and of course continuing to encourage people who haven’t been vaccinated at all yet, to come forward, recognising that we’re still trying to understand the impact of Omicron.
“That’s why we’ve got our top scientists working on it.
“But what we do know is that vaccines will help protect against impacts and that’s why we’ve pre-ordered the antiviral medical treatments as well.”
Ms Coffey was asked about Christmas socialising in relation to whether she agreed with and was backing the comments made by the UK’s Health Security Agency CEO and head of NHS Track and Trace Dr Jenny Harries this week.
Dr Jenny Harries grabbed headlines after urging everyone to do their bit by reducing the number of social contacts they have, and also warned against “not socialising when we don’t particularly need to”.
But Ms Coffey responded: “Christmas we should continue to plan for and enjoy, I hope.”
After Ms Coffey’s comments were picked up on Twitter, and many began to share their responses and continue to critique the government’s mixed messages, she herself tweeted: “Don’t kiss with people you don’t know… Government working exceptionally hard with NHS and the Jabs Army to get boosters in arms so we can all enjoy a proper Christmas knees-up.”
Therese Coffey’s comments also come a handful of new targeted measures were introduced in England on Tuesday in the wake of the detection of the new Omicron variant.
The UK government says that the new measures – which were announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a Downing Street news conference this past Saturday evening, and confirmed by Health Secretary Sajid Javid this week – are being taken as a “precaution to slow down the spread of the variant”.
The measures will be in place for three weeks while the government attempts to “gather more information”.
New COVID-19 measures
- All international arrivals must take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
- All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status, and they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
- Face coverings will be made compulsory in shops and on public transport from next week, and all hospitality settings will be exempt.
People who break the rules could be fined £200.
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