Grant Shapps hints at harsher Covid restrictions in New Year but says he’s ‘confident’ of no extra curbs before Xmas


GRANT Shapps today declared with “confidence” there won’t be more Covid restrictions before Christmas – but hinted ominously at a January lockdown.

The transport secretary insisted Brits will be able to enjoy a “good deal happier” festive period than last year thanks to testing and vaccines.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps

But he suggested the current Plan B restrictions will only “see us through to the New Year” and more curbs may be required after that.

Mr Shapps insisted Britain is “certainly in a better position than we were this time last year” in the fight against Covid.

He added: “We want people to be sensible but to enjoy their Christmas.

“We’re not saying to people to cancel their Christmases or their Christmas parties or getting together with their friends and families.

“But please take the lateral flow test, don’t go if you feel ill, get your third jab and you’re good to go.

“I think this Christmas will be a good deal happier than last year.”

Pressed on the possibility of new restrictions before December 25, he appeared to rule them out.

He said: “I hope not. We’ve got in place now the measures we believe will see us through to the New Year.

“With some confidence we can say people are going to be able to enjoy their Christmas get-together with their friends and families with only what has already been announced.”

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Mr Shapps confirmed that there are still 10 people in hospital with Covid and there has been one death of someone who tested positive for the variant.

He said none of those patients were on ventilators, but that he was unaware of how severely ill they were.

There have been over 4,700 confirmed cases of Omicron and scientists say it may be infecting as many as 200,000 people a day.

Schools are already drawing up plans to stay shut after the Christmas holidays due to the spread of Omicron.

And there are reports ministers are fleshing out draconian Plan C restrictions to come into force in January.

They could include the reintroduction of social “bubbles” and further indoor mask rules.

Government officials are said to have been “spooked” into looking at further restrictions as fears over Omicron continues to grip the nation.

But No 10 could struggle to get any new measures through Parliament after suffering a crushing rebellion on vaccine passports last night.

A whopping 99 Tory MPs opposed their imposition, leaving the PM relying on Labour’s support to win the vote.

Scottish curbs

Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon told Scots to restrict socialising to just three households over the Christmas period to fight Omicron.

She’s slapping the country with the toughest measures in months – piling pressure on Boris Johnson to also tighten mixing curbs in England.

The First Minister said the advice wouldn’t apply to main celebrations with friends and family on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing day.

In a gloomy address to MSPs she said she was “not asking anyone to cancel Christmas”, but advised people to limit their socialising either side of the holiday.

Ms Sturgeon said: “My key request today is this: before and immediately after Christmas, please minimise your social mixing with other households as much as you can.

“However, if you do plan on socialising, either at home or in indoor public places, we are asking that you limit the number of households represented in your group to a maximum of three. And make sure you test before you go.”

Omicron is spreading like wildfire in the UK including large parts of Scotland.

Laying bare the alarming Covid situation, Ms Sturgeon said she expects it to become the dominant strain in days.