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Masks rules ‘to stay until New Year’ amid Omicron crisis as PM ‘desperate not to ruin Christmas’ with tougher measures

FACE mask rules could be in place "until the New Year" as Boris Johnson desperately tries not to ruin Christmas with tougher measures.

It comes nearly a week after emergency regulations were rushed through parliament making face masks mandatory in shops and on public transport until December 21.

A decision is expected on December 18 however Whitehall sources have told the Daily Mail the latest restrictions could be in place for another three weeks, giving scientists more time to assess if Omicron is more harmful than previous variants.

Getting travel tests and a compulsory 10-day quarantine for anyone who has been in contact with an Omicron case is also expected to be extended.

According to the site, Prime Minister Boris Johnson could introduce the Government's "Plan B" that would involve vaccine passports and a return to working from home early next year.

The source said: "In terms of Plan B, we are not there yet. The ambition is that people can have a much more normal Christmas than last year.

"That depends on what the data shows about the new variant. But certainly the hope is that things stay as they are in the next couple of weeks."

And it comes as nearly two-thirds of high-risk people are yet to receive their Covid booster vaccines, The Telegraph has revealed.

Data seen by the paper has shown that at least 300,000 people unable to travel for their jab have not had a booster after GPs opted out of administering them.

An unpublished Whitehall study the paper has seen found that only 170,000 housebound people out of 470,000 had received their booster.

According to the Telegraph, some are still waiting for a jab 10 weeks on and have been given "no answer" by the NHS despite fears of the "super-mutant" Omicron strain.

GPs have warned they're unable to administer the vaccine to housebound patients because they do not have the time or staff.

In response, a NHS spokesman said: "Local NHS and GP teams are contacting their eligible housebound patients, and we are working closely with St John Ambulance to give local areas additional support.

"We are also providing additional funding to help local teams secure additional staff so that all eligible housebound patients are offered a booster as quickly and safely as possible."

NO CORONA FRIGHT

It follows news that Boris Johnson hopes to confirm this week that Christmas is going ahead as planned.

Downing Street insiders say the Prime Minister is set to deliver an update on the Omicron variant days earlier than the three-week review — previously announced as December 18.

It was feared new restrictions would be announced then — putting Christmas plans in doubt.

But it is thought the Cabinet are confident no further measures are required.

Insiders say ministers are “gripped with a united fear the public would never forgive them if they ruin Christmas for the second year running".

And another Downing Street source told The Sun: “The hope is we won’t have to introduce anything new, and the current measures — testing at the border and mask wearing — are not too much of an impingement.”

The positive news comes as more than 20 million Brits were confirmed to have received their Covid booster and Deputy PM Dominic Raab told people to go out and enjoy Christmas.

Families CAN enjoy Christmas together, Dominic Raab insists as expert warns Omicron variant is 'spreading rapidly' in UK

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