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No new Covid restrictions in England before new year, Boris Johnson says | Coronavirus

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England will have no further Covid restrictions over New Year’s Eve, Boris Johnson has ruled, meaning nightclubs and mass events can continue but people will be urged to test before seeing those who are vulnerable.

After a virtual briefing with England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, and the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, No 10 said the data would continue to be reviewed but that no new steps would be taken before the new year.

The decision makes England an outlier in the UK, after Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland put limits on social gatherings and mass events.

Instead, Johnson and the health secretary, Sajid Javid, will put an emphasis on personal responsibility, despite warnings from health bosses and trade unions, stressing the needs to wear masks indoors, keep areas ventilated and to take tests before seeing elderly or vulnerable relatives.

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Before Christmas, Johnson’s cabinet pushed back against new curbs, with key opponents including the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, and the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng. Three cabinet ministers who spoke to the Guardian on Monday said they remained sceptical any further measures were necessary.

New coronavirus restrictions came into force from Monday in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. From Boxing Day, Wales restricted to a maximum of six the number of people allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants, as well as other restrictions on numbers for larger events. Nightclubs have been closed.

In Scotland, up to three households can meet, with one-metre distancing between groups at indoor and outdoor venues such as bars, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and gyms. Table service is also required at places where alcohol is served and nightclubs are to close for at least three weeks from 27 December.

Northern Ireland is also recommending restricting socialising to three households, while up to six people can meet in pubs, bars and restaurants. Nightclubs have also been closed there.

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