Thérèse Coffey, 50, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions since 2019, has warned Christmas party goers against meeting “under the mistletoe” as fears over the new variant increase. The warning comes as UK cases of Omicron have risen to 32 after first detecting the variant in South Africa less than four weeks ago.
The variant, which has been classified as a “variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO), quickly spread to nearly two dozen countries including Spain, Canada, the UK, Australia, the US and Portugal.
The emergence of Omicron prompted Boris Johnson, 57, to enforce tighter restrictions, but the Prime Minister assured people during his Downing Street news conference the measures were “temporary and precautionary”.
The newly tightened restrictions have raised questions over Christmas parties, which will mean many festive traditions, including meeting under the mistletoe, may be axed.
Speaking on ITV’s Peston, Ms Coffey said: “I don’t think there should be much snogging under the mistletoe.”
“I think it’s just a sensible precaution to take.”
He said it was “absolutely fine” for planned parties to go ahead this Christmas.
The Secretary of State’s comments come after the Prime Minister was caught in hot water when he faced questions over a Downing Street event that reportedly took place during last year’s lockdown.
Mr Johnson was accused of breaking lockdown rules to host a Downing Street Christmas party last year, but has insisted “all guidance was followed completely”.
However, the Prime Minister has not denied a “boozy” event had taken place.