In a poll of 2,559 Express readers, 50 percent of voters said they would still go to Christmas parties despite fears around the Omicron spread, whilst 46 percent said they would not, and four percent were not sure. A voter nicknamed ‘Sami7’ argued that Christmas parties should go ahead “in a sensible manner”. They added: “Take a lateral flow test before attending to make sure you’re clear, then party and enjoy Christmas. It’s common sense and people need a decent Christmas after last year!”
Another reader, Bors, said: “People want to live a normal kind of life now. This is not good for your mental health, time to end it and not be governed by these silly rules.”
But their comment sparked anger amongst other Express participants.
A voter going by ‘Fin 231’ responded: “Silly rules? If people actually followed these ‘silly rules’, we would have dealt with Covid a long time ago, but no, people decided to march on the streets and cry because a mask is such an inconvenience!”
The Omicron variant appears to spread at a faster rate than previous variants, but there is not enough data yet to know whether it is more or less deadly.
A further 86 new cases of the mutation were found over the weekend, taking the total Omicron UK case figure to 246.
The current rules requiring mandatory face masks in shops and public transport, imposed in response to the arrival of Omicron, expire on Monday 20 December.
Ministers are still unsure whether they will be able to lift the rules or will have to strengthen them, for example by ordering people to work from home or introducing Covid passes at large venues.
A Downing Street source said: “We are only a week into the new restrictions, and we just don’t have the data that we need yet. It will take a week or two to know slightly more about the variant.”
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at the University of Cambridge who helps advise the Government, told Sky News the new Covid strain posed a “high risk” but believes ministers are determined “not to disrupt Christmas”.
He added: “What happens after Christmas is another matter.
“The travel restrictions are only going to slow things down a little, they’re not going to stop it.
“In the New Year we’re likely to see a lot of challenges and that could mean more stringent measures.”
Professor Spiegelhalter said the emergence of Omicron is “appalling timing” as the festive season is “one of the highest risk periods… with a lot of indoor socialising”.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) concluded at its most recent meeting that its previous advice on home working and Covid passes was “highly relevant” in light of Omicron, and dismissed fears that the public would refuse to obey any fresh restrictions.
But some Express readers said they would disregard government guidelines when taking part in our poll.
Olly Smyth said: “I don’t care what the government will say regarding Christmas this year. I’ve stopped listening and I’m going to do whatever I want to do.”
His comments riled other readers: ‘Cjjs’ said it’s “one thing to risk yourself, another to risk everyone else”.
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