"It's time for another Great British vaccination effort"
In a Downing Street press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged citizens to get their booster vaccines in a bid to fight the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
His speech came as eight further cases of the new variant were confirmed in England, bringing the UK total to at least 22.
It also came on November 30, 2021, the day that restrictions were tightened.
Laws came into force mandating that people wear face coverings in shops and on public transport. Any arrivals into the UK are also subject to more Covid-19 testing.
All close contacts of Omicron cases have to isolate for 10 days.
Anyone found not wearing a mask face a £200 fine for a first-time offence, with the amount increasing the more people are found to break the rules.
At the press conference, Mr Johnson urged citizens to get their booster jabs.
He stated that the best way to ensure there is no lockdown at Christmas is to take up the offer of a booster jab.
Over-18s are now eligible for a third jab, three months after the second.
But those under-40 with no underlying health conditions or who are not frontline health or social care workers cannot yet book their third jab.
He said that the most vulnerable people are the priority.
But Mr Johnson stated that all adults will be offered a booster vaccine by the end of January 2022.
He added: “It’s time for another Great British vaccination effort, we’ve done it before and we are going to do it again, let’s not give this virus a second chance.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid reinforced the PM’s comments, saying the extension of the vaccine programme is to “buy the time we need to assess this new variant”.
Mr Javid admitted that the emergence of Omicron has worried some people.
He said: “They have brought back memories of the strain of last winter. But we have one huge advantage we did not have then – the vaccination programme.
This is a national mission. If we want to have the best chance of a Christmas with our loved ones, we should get protected.”
There is particular concern that vaccines may be less effective against Omicron, something scientists are working to determine.
This prompted the head of the UK’s Health Security Agency Dr Jenny Harries to say earlier that people could help slow its spread by “not socialising when we don’t particularly need to and particularly going and getting those booster jabs”.
Mr Johnson dismissed this and said that the guidance on socialising remains the same.
He also said there is no need for people to cancel Christmas parties and that is currently no plan to implement Plan B.
However, he will change things as necessary but is looking for reassurance that vaccines are effective against Omicron.
There was also scepticism about the booster vaccine rollout, with questions surrounding the PM’s claims that all adults would receive an offer by the end of January 2022.
ITV’s Emily Morgan revealed that even giving 3.5 million booster jabs every week, it would take until mid-February to get through all those eligible.
On the concerns, there is no maximum to the number of vaccines they want to give, week on week, and things will change as they go along.
Mr Johnson added: “I’m still confident that this Christmas will be considerably better than last Christmas.”