x

Travel

Party-Goers Urged Not to Travel Across UK as Omicron Surges

January 1, 2022

LONDON — Officials have warned revellers in Scotland and Wales to think twice before travelling to England to ring in the new year, highlighting how the four parts of the UK were again taking starkly different approaches to coronavirus restrictions amid record-high infections and soaring hospitalizations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resisted tightening restrictions in England despite the rapid spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant, instead focusing on frequent self-testing and an expanded vaccine booster program to control the spread of infections.

Meanwhile Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which set their own public health rules, imposed new restrictions this week that closed all nightclubs and limited social gatherings. Bars and pubs have had to return to table service only. In Edinburgh, which traditionally hosts one of Europe’s largest New Year’s Eve parties, people have been urged to stay at home.

While no formal travel ban is in place to stop Scottish party-goers from making their way to England on Friday, Scotland’s deputy leader John Swinney said travelling would be the “wrong course of action.”

Opinions have been divided on whether Johnson’s Conservative government was taking a risky gamble in not enforcing tougher coronavirus measures in England as the omicron variant drives infections to record high numbers.

About one in 25 people in England — or about 2 million people — had COVID-19 in the week before Christmas, the Office of National Statistics estimated Friday. That figure jumped to 1 in 15 in London, the capital, the body estimated.

Figures released Friday showed the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.K. rose to 12,395, up 68% from a week earlier and the highest number recorded since February. Confirmed new daily cases hit another record, at 189,846, and the government reported a further 203 deaths.

“Although the numbers are going up and going up increasingly rapidly, the absence of large numbers of seriously ill older people is providing significant reassurance,” Chris Hopson, the head of NHS Providers, told The Times.

But immunologist and government scientific adviser Peter Openshaw warned that while U.K. hospitals haven’t yet reached the “threshold” of being overwhelmed, “it looks like that will be reached quite quickly.”

Johnson has urged people to take a rapid coronavirus test before going out and meeting with others on Friday, or to celebrate outdoors if possible. While firework displays have been cancelled in London for the second year in a row, many parties were going ahead and many revellers were still expected to turn out in the capital later in the day.

Some believe Johnson’s strategy is dangerous and that large crowds gathering indoors for New Year’s Eve will likely lead to a further rise in infections.

“It is quite risky, given the fact we’re now approaching 200,000 cases per day –- there is a high rate of infection in the community,” Dr. Azeem Majeed, head of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, told Times Radio.

Health officials said the government has met its goal of offering a vaccine booster shot to all adults in the country by Dec. 31. About 82% of all over 12-year-olds in the U.K. have received a second vaccine dose, officials said.

RELATED

RETHYMNO – Domisi Development CEO Stavros Kapetanakis spoke with The National Herald about the Crete-based company that designs and builds detached houses and tourist complexes and about Crete Holiday Home.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

2 Germans, a Spaniard and a Senegalese Killed in Building Collapse in Spain’s Mallorca Island

MADRID (AP) — Spain's National Police on Friday gave details on four people killed when a building housing a bar and restaurant club collapsed on the island of Mallorca.

ALBANY – New York State Assemblyman Michael Tannousis (R,C-Staten Island/Brooklyn) alongside Assemblyman Mike Reilly (R,C-Staten Island) and Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton, announced the passage in the Assembly of ‘Detective Brian Simonsen’s Law,’ a bipartisan proposal that will require cell phone providers to immediately disable services to stolen cell phones.

After claiming it wasn't responsible for refugees on an overcrowded boat who drowned in an overcrowded fishing boat on June 14, 2023 because it was in international waters, Greece’s attempt to blame nine Egyptians sank when a Greek court said it had no jurisdiction.

Dear Stavroula, I have been married for two years and my wife is a wonderful person – loving and giving.

ATHENS - Eye-watering prices for olive oil - 15 euros ($16.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.