Brits should refrain from smooching under the mistletoe and keep their distance this Christmas, a minister has said.
Work & Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has urged people to keep socially distanced from one another where possible this festive season, as the Government was accused of delivering mixed messages.
The Conservative MPs said all kissing with those "you don't already know" should be avoided.
"I don't think there should be much snogging under the mistletoe," Coffey told ITV's Robert Peston.
"Don't need to do things like that. But I think we should all be trying to enjoy the Christmas ahead of us and that's why we're working so hard to get the deployment of as many vaccines as possible, and of course continuing to encourage people who haven't been vaccinated at all yet, to come forward, recognising that we're still trying to understand the impact of Omicron.
"That's why we've got our top scientists working on it. But what we do know is that vaccines will help protect against impacts and that's why we've pre-ordered the antiviral medical treatments as well."
Coffey was asked whether she was backing Dr Jenny Harries, who said everyone can do their bit by reducing the number of social contacts they have - and by "not socialising when we don't particularly need to".
Coffey echoed many Tories when she argued that they should not.
"No, no. Christmas we should continue to plan for and enjoy, I hope," she told Peston.
The UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has not called for a party ban, but yesterday said that people should “maybe” take a Covid rapid test before attending Christmas dos, and even consider wearing a face mask.
He told Sky News: “It’s not a formal recommendation in the guidance, but if I was going to a party with lots of people and things, I would.
“But I would have done that even before we knew about this variant.”
He later told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If you are invited to a Christmas party, there's quite a few people there, maybe you want to take an LFT (lateral flow test) before you go.
Image:AFP via Getty Images)
"Go to the party, but just be cautious."
The furore about whether parties should go ahead and how comes as Boris Johnson remains under the spotlight for allegedly hosting lockdown get-togethers at Downing Street last December.
The PM today failed three times to deny the events took place last November and December, as one attendee alleged revellers at an unofficial No10 Christmas bash enjoyed food, drinks and games which went on well past midnight.
And a Downing Street insider claimed there were often get-togethers in the evenings while millions of people across the land were observing the strict curbs brought in by Mr Johnson.
The party question is particularly relevant now that the threat of the omicron variant has emerged.
A total of 32 cases of the strain, which scientists fear may be able to evade the vaccine, have been found in the UK.
Coronavirus infections overall remain high in the country, with more than 48,000 people tested positive on Wednesday.