Mad dash for festive food now Christmas is DEFINITELY back on
Shoppers have rushed out in their droves to stock up on food as the prospect of fresh Covid restrictions after Christmas looms large.
Massive queues formed outside supermarkets including Tesco and Marks and Spencer, butchers and cheesemongers in Bristol, Crawley and Hampshire today after Boris Johnson gave the green light on households mixing on December 25.
A change in self-isolation rules means that thousands of people who faced Christmas alone after testing positive can now enjoy festivities with friends and family. However, mounting uncertainty about the Omicron variant is threatening to plunge the country further into crisis.
And with the Prime Minister refusing to rule out fresh curbs next week, families could well be stocking up on party food and wine for private New Year’s Eve parties.
Care Minister Gillian Keegan has told people to only plan New Year’s Eve parties they can cancel at short notice. She announced that 14 people have died with Omicron in the UK. However, the Government has not yet revealed any details about the victims – including their ages, their underlying state of health, and whether or not they were vaccinated.
MPs and hospitality chiefs are begging for clarity on the New Year period, which could be make or break for many bars and restaurants after Government ‘scare stories’ about Omicron in recent weeks triggered a wave of cancellations.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid Javid today insisted there are no plans for any further Covid restrictions this week, but warned: ‘We will keep the situation under review. We will keep analysing that data and if need to do anything more we will’.
As England adopts a ‘wait and see’ approach, ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have announced stringent controls including limits on social gatherings and compulsory business closures from Boxing Day.
Mr Johnson’s green light triggered a mad scramble to race home for Christmas. However, travel plans descended into chaos today, with furious rail passengers complaining of train cancellations while a car fire brought part of the M5 to a standstill.
More than 18million vehicles will hit the roads today and Christmas Eve to see family and friends over the holiday, with the RAC estimating that 5million alone will head out tomorrow on what is being dubbed ‘frantic festive Friday’.
However, families and friends today took to social media to accuse loved ones of giving them Covid ahead of the festive holidays. Anyone who tests positive for the virus now faces Christmas locked indoors, either alone or with friends, family or housemates.
As the coronavirus crisis lurches into its latest dramatic phase:
- Boris Johnson is today being urged to ditch the idea of New Year restrictions after studies showed the Omicron strain is milder than Delta;
- Britain is considering giving out fourth Covid vaccines in a bid to stop the surge of Omicron cases, following the lead of Germany and Israel;
- Millions will face travel chaos over Christmas and the New Year thanks to rail strikes, airport disruption and predictions of the busiest roads in years;
- The Army will be called in to help run makeshift Covid wards inside hospital canteens, car parks and meeting rooms if the NHS becomes overwhelmed;
- Covid hospitalisations in London have risen 50 per cent in a week to 301, approaching the Government’s threshold of 400 for introducing lockdown.
Panicking shoppers rushed out in their droves to stock up on food at a Tesco supermarket in Bristol
People are seen queuing for a butchers in Petersfield in Hampshire as Covid uncertainty grips the country
People are seeing queueing outside a shop in Cheshire to stock up on festive goods ahead of December 25
Christmas is back on! Santas ride motorbikes in London after Boris Johnson gave the green light on households mixing
People are seen queuing for a butchers in Petersfield in Hampshire this morning
Shoppers formed a big queue outside a Marks and Spencer store in Crawley this morning
People were seeing forming a big queue outside a butchers in Gravesend today amid Covid uncertainty
Social media users shared images of people queueing for the cheesemonger in Didsbury
Shoppers seen queueing at the butchers in Sheffield after Boris Johnson gave the green light for Christmas
Hundreds of passengers at Euston Rail Station in London waiting for updates on their train services today
During rush hour, a car fire on the M5 northbound between junctions 19 and 20 near Clevedon brought traffic to a standstill
Researchers at Imperial College London found Omicron is 10 per cent less likely to cause hospitalisation in someone who has never been vaccinated or previously infected with Covid than with Delta. Hospitalisation is up to 20 per cent less likely in the general population — including those who have been infected or vaccinated — and 45 per cent less likely for at least a night
SAGE scientist Professor Neil Ferguson – who just last week warned there could be up to 5,000 daily Omicron deaths in the UK – said the country’s fourth wave will be ‘nothing like what we seen last year, with ICUs overflowing with patients’ on the back of the new findings. Right, Prime Minister Boris Johnson
‘Looks like cereal for Christmas dinner then’: Britons forced into self-isolation for festive period struggle to get last-minute delivery slots at major supermarkets
Britons unexpectedly plunged in self-isolation for Christmas are struggling to get last-minute supermarket delivery slots with some joking they will probably be ‘eating cereal’.
People stuck inside took to social media to report having trouble getting slots before December 25 at the likes of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.
One primary school teacher in Scotland said all slots for Asda delivery were ‘sold out for days’ and she was stuck at home in isolation with a nine-month-old baby.
And a London-based Twitter user called Hol said there were ‘no delivery slots for groceries online, guess me and Naomi are having cereal for Christmas then.’
A third from Oxford tweeted: ‘Just tested positive for Covid and the first available Tesco delivery slot is January 4, by which time I’ll be out of isolation. Get me off this dismal island.’
But other Britons had more luck using Amazon Fresh, which offers same-day delivery of Morrisons groceries, as well as Co-Op and express grocery firms such as Gorillas.
And Deliveroo tried to take advantage, emailing its customers to say: ‘Christmas food must-haves – No delivery slot required.’ It added: ‘No more delivery slots to get your Christmas food shop delivered? No worries, Deliveroo has got you covered.’
The situation has not been helped by a shortage of delivery drivers due to high rates of absence in recent weeks caused by the rise of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
This comes on top of the shortage that had already been building due to foreign drivers returning to their home countries due to Covid-19 and uncertainty around Brexit, retiring drivers, changes to taxation rates and poor working conditions.
But some Britons may not even need a delivery anymore, after it was revealed that more than 280,000 people infected with coronavirus and facing Christmas alone can now safely enjoy festivities with their families after a change in isolation rules.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said the latest Omicron findings show there is ‘certainly no need for any further restrictions’.
Conservative former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the lower severity has a ‘a huge bearing on what is happening’.
‘No more restrictions. it is becoming absolutely clear that those of us who said don’t will be proved right now,’ he told MailOnline.
‘It is time for the scientists to stop Project Fear.’
Sir Iain said that Mr Johnson should come out and reassure people that they can carry on relatively normally.
‘The public needs to feel OK. Yes they need to be careful. Yes in crowden circumstances wearing facemasks, yes use hand sanitiser… but that is not the same as stay away, don’t visit your family all that stuff. The answer is, we just get on with it,’ he added.
The reaction came after a study found that even an unvaccinated person who has never had Covid and has no immunity, there was a 10 per cent lower risk of being hospitalised with Omicron compared to Delta.
For someone how has been recently infected, the chance of hospitalisation was slashed by 69 per cent in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
The finding may explain why in South Africa, where up to 70 per cent of people have immunity from prior infection but only a quarter are jabbed, is seeing daily hospitalisations stall at less than 400.
‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson said: ‘You can see in London, we are getting a lot more people hospitalised. Not for very long, probably not with very severe illness.
‘And that’s not a reflection of Omicron versus Delta, that was already true for…