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Prime Minister Boris Johnson soon make a decision on whether Christmas 2021 will be ‘cancelled’ by coronavirus restrictions.
On December 18, the PM will hold a press conference to announce whether any further action will be taken to tackle the Omicron variant which has arrived in the UK from South Africa.
The World Health Organisation warned evidence suggests the variant has an increased risk of re-infection and may spread more rapidly.
There are currently 160 confirmed cases of the new strain in the UK as the death toll for the original Covid-19 virus reaches 146,000 out of 10.4 million cases, according to Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
Experts have expressed concern that that history could repeat itself a year after the Alpha variant triggered a Christmas lockdown.
Prof Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, warned: "We all need to be ready for the possibility of a change in the restrictions."
Recently, the restrictions were tightened to make masks mandatory on public transport and in shops – but not in bars and restaurants.
Last Christmas was ruined by the tier system after the government took a U-turn on plans to allow families to visit each other and reinstated the rule of six.
In tiers, one to three, only three households could form a Christmas Day bubble but those trapped in tier 4 were not able to join with households or travel out of the area to see their loved ones.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not ruled out a similar lockdown for this festive season, but has promised he believes this Christmas will be significantly better than the last.
He told his party at their first face-to-face meeting in two years, held in Manchester in October, he said: "This Christmas will be much much better than last Christmas."
But government advisors have warned that the next five Christmases could be ruined by the virus.
Sage scientists said: "Even if there continues to be good protection against severe disease for individuals from vaccination (including boosters), any significant reduction in protection against infection could still result in a very large wave of infections.
"This would in turn lead to potentially high numbers of hospitalisations even with protection against the severe disease being less affected.
"The size of this wave remains highly uncertain but may be of a scale that requires very stringent response measures to avoid unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
"If vaccine efficacy is substantially reduced, then a wave of severe disease should be expected."
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- Boris Johnson
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