Football fans have been advised not to attend matches in stadiums and to “prioritise” social events “that really matter to them” in the run-up to Christmas.
In the light of the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, and the emergence of the new Omicron variant, the statement around the prioritisation of socialising was made by yesterday evening during a televised Downing Street news conference hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, alongside Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, and Dr Nikki Kanani – Medical Director of Primary Care for NHS England.
Although the Prime Minister insisted that this Christmas would still be “considerably better” than the last, he told people to “think carefully” before attending social events over the next few weeks and to limit their contacts with the big day right around the corner.
Professor Chris Whitty then went even further than the Prime Minister, however, and urged the public not to “mix with people you don’t have to”.
He warned that more COVID records would be broken as the Omicron variant surges.
The news conference was held on the day that the UK recorded 78,610 new COVID cases in a 24-hour period, which broke the record for the highest daily number reported since the start of the pandemic.
The reintroduction of a legal requirement to wear face masks in “most public indoor venues”, including theatres and cinemas – with exceptions “where it’s not practical, including while eating, drinking, exercising or singing”.
NHS COVID passes for nightclubs, unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people, and any venue with more than 10,000 people.
Daily testing for people identified as a contact of a COVID-19 case – with isolation required only for people who test positive.
Plan B was drawn up before the Omicron variant emerged, and only applies to England.
Yet despite the introduction of the measures, the government has not told any businesses to close or imposed any capacity restrictions on sporting events.
Even though there are no legal limits on crowd sizes, Dr Nikki Kanani did advise supporters in yesterday’s conference to stay away from stadiums – apart from those being used as COVID vaccination sites – as the Omicron variant spreads across the UK.
“My advice would be, if you’re going to go to a stadium at the weekend, make it one where you can get your vaccine or help out to give a vaccine, rather than going to watch a match,” she said
Professor Chris Whitty echoed Dr Kanani’s comments, saying that it would be “very sensible” for people to make choices between which social events they attend, and which they don’t, adding: “I really think people should be prioritising those things and only those things that really matter to them.”
Mr Johnson added that the public were showing a “general instinct to be more cautious”.
Meanwhile, the conference last night also comes amid an ongoing conversation around the hardships once again being faced by the hospitality sector and the question of “where is the Chancellor”, as pubs and restaurants in Greater Manchester and right across the UK are hit by a surge of cancelled bookings in the lead-up to and at Christmas.
Sacha Lord – Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser, and co-founder of Parklife and Warehouse Project – has been a prominent voice in questioning and critiquing the lack of support being offered by the government.
Mr Lord took to Twitter yesterday to ask someone to “urgently wake up Rishi Sunak”, and said the Chancellor would be “responsible for the decimation of businesses, livelihoods and mass redundancies,” in the sector.
UK Hospitality has called for business rates to be deferred, and VAT discounts extended.
Also response to the lack of government support, Wes Streeting – Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary – told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “It’s not right that businesses through no fault of their own are taking a hit.”
He added that it was “inexplicable the chancellor and business secretary are nowhere to be seen” as many businesses see incomes plunge at a crucial time of year.
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”