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Stricter Covid restrictions could be announced for England

Prime Minister Boris Johnson provides an update on the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic during a virtual press conference at 10 Downing Street on March 18, 2021 in London, England.

Tolga Akmen – WPA Pool | Getty Images

LONDON – The UK government could be set to announce more Covid restrictions for England amid concerns over the spread of the omicron variant, according to a report in the Financial Times on Wednesday.

The newspaper, which quotes three anonymous senior Whitehall officials, said sources told the newspaper the government decided to implement its so-called “plan B” of increased restrictions, including vaccine passports for adults. sites and an order to work from home.

The new restrictions could be announced at a press conference as early as Wednesday with regulations tabled in parliament on Thursday, according to government insiders speaking to the newspaper.

CNBC has contacted Downing Street for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

The move comes amid widespread concerns over the growing number of omicron Covid cases in the UK, where official data suggests 1,000 people a day are infected with the variant.

Experts commented this week that it could be a matter of weeks, rather than months, before it usurps the globally dominant delta variant.

Imperial College Professor Neil Ferguson, an influential epidemiologist among a cohort of experts advising the UK government on Covid, told The Times on Tuesday that early data suggests the number of omicron cases is doubling every ” three days or less “.

Critics of the government are likely to see any introduction of more restrictive measures as a way to distract public attention from widespread media coverage of an alleged Christmas party that took place in Downing Street last year that violated the Covid rules.

Downing Street denies a party took place, but video was obtained by broadcaster ITV showing senior Downing Street executives joking about hosting a Christmas party and how they might answer questions from the press at this subject.

The emergence of a video in which staff joke about the Christmas party, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted never took place, could further undermine public confidence in the government and compliance with Covid restrictions.

This is breaking news, please check for additional updates.

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