Brits warned not to snog under the mistletoe this Christmas as Omicron spreads

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Brits have been told not to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas to avoid spreading the Omicron Covid-19 variant

Government minister Therese Coffey didn't mince her words when she said Christmas snogging with strangers should be kept to a minimum.

She emphasised the importance of social distancing in halting the heavily mutated strain of the Covid-19 in its tracks, and implored people to interact from a safe distance over the festive season.

The Work and Pensions Secretary implied that there are obvious exceptions to the no-kissing advice, which she said only applies to those "you don't already know".

"I don't think there should be much snogging under the mistletoe," Ms Coffey told ITV's Robert Peston.

"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 whether she was backing Dr Jenny Harries, who said everyone can do their bit by reducing the number of social contacts they have – and by "not socialising when we don't particularly need to".

The chief executive of the UK's Health Security Agency's comments raised the question of whether Christmas parties should be cancelled.

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Ms Coffey echoed many Tories when she argued that they should not.

"No, no. Christmas we should continue to plan for and enjoy, I hope," she told Peston.

The UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has not called for a party ban, but yesterday said that people should “maybe” take a Covid rapid lateral flow test before attending Christmas dos, and even consider wearing a face mask.

He told Sky News: “It’s not a formal recommendation in the guidance, but if I was going to a party with lots of people and things, I would.

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“But I would have done that even before we knew about this variant.”

He later told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If you are invited to a Christmas party, there's quite a few people there, maybe you want to take an LFT (lateral flow test) before you go.

Sajid Javid said people should "maybe" take a lateral flow test before meeting others this Christmas

"Go to the party, but just be cautious.," Javid said.

The furore about whether parties should go ahead and how comes as Boris Johnson remains under the spotlight for allegedly hosting lockdown get-togethers at Downing Street last December.

  • Boris Johnson
  • Christmas
  • Coronavirus

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