Home LATEST NEWS Omicron is blowing UK panic ahead of the holidays

Omicron is blowing UK panic ahead of the holidays

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Last year, Christmas celebrations were reduced to an absolute minimum following the emergence of the Alpha variant of the coronavirus. The British were hoping to catch up this year, but the spectacular resurgence of COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant is turning everything upside down.

While the government has imposed only very limited measures (teleworking, indoor masks and health passport for mass gatherings), some play it safe and limit their outings to avoid being contaminated to one Christmas week. .

Although not formally banned, many Christmas parties at businesses and institutions in the UK have been canceled, much to the chagrin of pubs.

This week is supposed to be our busiest week of the year, but it hasn’t been busy at all, laments Jessie Sandy, a 28-year-old waiter at the London Hospital Tavern.

We have had a lot of cancellations. […] We had one or two parties a weekend plus Christmas parties, but they were all canceled obviously due to the Omicron variant., he said.

A passerby walks through the almost deserted City of London.

With the number of new COVID-19 cases reaching an all-time high, the Bank of England has raised interest rates to fight inflation. It is the first central bank to do so among the world’s economic powers since the start of the pandemic.

Photo: Associated Press / Alberto Pezzali

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson has advised people to think carefully before going at a restaurant or pub, Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, went further. He called on Britons to limit their interactions to reduce their chances of catching or transmitting the virus.

Even Queen Elizabeth II, 95, gave up as a precaution her traditional family reunion which was to bring together around fifty people next Tuesday at Windsor Castle for the first time since the death of her husband, Philip, in April.

In theaters of the West End, a London borough known for its musicals, many productions have had to cancel certain dates because members of their teams have tested positive for COVID-19. A big blow in this usually auspicious period.

For shows that work, nearly a quarter of reserved seats end up empty, according to professionals.

Trips that promise to be complicated

Holiday plans are also falling apart: the British will be banned from entering France from Saturday. The French for their part will have to produce a negative test of less than 24 hours and isolate themselves on their arrival while awaiting a second negative test.

This decision was justified by France by the tsunami of cases linked to the variant Omicron in the United Kingdom, which reported on Thursday registered 88,376 new cases of COVID-19 in 24 hours, a record since the start of the pandemic for a second consecutive day.

It’s panic once again, the race, says Elena Orsini, 47-year-old Italian. To escape the new restrictions, it will finally leave on Friday evening via the Eurotunnel in France rather than on Saturday.

A last minute change that involves an additional cost, but after their holiday in France was canceled last Christmas due to restrictions, we didn’t want to miss it again.

Precautionary measures

In the United Kingdom, contamination linked to Omicron is now doubling in less than two days in some regions. Hospitalizations are starting to rise again, especially in London.

I’m especially careful this year because I caught COVID exactly around this time last year, so I couldn’t do anything for my birthday., which falls in December, nor for Christmas explains Charlie Hinton, a 23-year-old waiter.

This year, he plans to celebrate his birthday, but will ask his friends to do an antigen test before the party and plans to see them outside to limit the risks.

To shield Omicron, the government is banking on the vaccine booster campaign, hoping to offer a third dose to all adults by the end of December.

With his third injection, Malcolm Porter, 60, a regular at the Au White Hart pub in Whitechapel (east London), does not intend to change his plans. I’ll go to the pub tonight and Sunday. We all did our encore, so I feel comfortable. Finally if you catch it, you catch it …

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