Friday, January 21

Covid-19. UK Christmas parties embarrass government

With the Omicron variant, do you have to keep the “Christmas parties” at work? The subject embarrasses the British government, criticized for its confused guidelines when it threw a party for its employees in 2020 when it was prohibited.

Yet quick to introduce new health restrictions at the borders, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the British to “continue as before” and not to change their plans for Christmas. “We don’t want people to feel like they have to start canceling things,” like the office festivities, the former mayor of London said on Thursday, after saying received his booster dose vaccine against Covid-19.

“There is nothing in the rules that prevents anyone from organizing Christmas parties,” insisted his spokesperson, as everyone began to question the merits of holding “Christmas parties” at work, a very English tradition. Members of his government were less assertive.

One of the countries most affected by the pandemic with 145,000 deaths, the United Kingdom has so far detected around 40 cases linked to the Omicron variant.

Faced with the new threat, the Conservative government has expanded its vaccination campaign. He also again imposed the wearing of masks in transport and stores. Without limiting indoor parties.

“Confused and inconsistent messages from the government”

Some pubs, which generate a large part of their turnover at Christmas because they host many company parties, are however already registering cancellations.

The boss of the Young’s chain, Patrick Dardis, accuses the “confused and inconsistent messages from the government” which have added to fears that a Christmas party at work will later deprive employees of family reunion.

We advised “people to avoid social interactions”, then “an hour later”, the Minister of Health Sajid David “said the opposite”, he protested.

The Prime Minister defended him “a balanced and proportionate approach to risk”. “Christmas this year will be considerably better than Christmas last year,” he said.

In 2020, two parties in Downing Street despite the bans

These criticisms come as Boris Johnson finds himself accused of having held two “watered” parties in December 2020 in Downing Street, even though he was forbidden to be inside.

According to Daily Mail, 40 to 50 people gathered “on top of each other” for a Christmas party and a party, where the Prime Minister gave a speech.

Asked by the leader of the Labor opposition Keir Starmer in Parliament, Boris Johnson did not deny the holidays but assured that “all the recommendations had been followed”.

“The Prime Minister takes the British for fools,” protested Keir Starmer. Scottish National Party leader in Parliament Ian Blackford accused Boris Johnson of having “a rule for himself and a rule for everyone else”.

Boris Johnson has confirmed that there will be a Christmas party this year in Downing Street.

An official of the Ministry of the Economy, George Freeman, on the other hand assured Times Radio that his ministry “would not have a big party”. It is up to each company to “judge what is appropriate to do,” he told the BBC, calling for common sense.

“Four or five employees who work together every day and get together for a drink does not represent a great risk,” he said, unlike the “large parties” of “hundreds of people” organized by some firms, not necessarily “very reasonable, given the situation”.

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