A spokesperson for Number 10 told Sky News celebrations will take place across Whitehall in the race to Xmas despite fears about the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
“As the Prime Minister has already made clear, these events are in the latest guidelines and we don’t want people to cancel them,” the spokesperson said.
It comes as the number of confirmed Omicron cases in the UK is expected to rise sharply from the current total of 42.
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A source confirmed to Sky News that there will be an official update of the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) figures “shortly” and that the UK total “will not be lower” at 66.
Meanwhile, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), one in 60 people is expected to have coronavirus in the week leading up to November 27.
The latest data came as Tory Party Chairman Oliver Dowden told Sky News people should continue to go to pubs and dine in restaurants during the holiday season.
Mr Dowden said the government had taken “sufficient” action against it Omicron so far and that people don’t need to cancel their party plans.
“The message to people is pretty straightforward – stay calm, get on with your Christmas plans,” Mr. Dowden said.
“We have the necessary restrictions in place, but beyond that, stay calm and carry on. “
But many are canceling festive events on their own, with Sainsbury’s supermarket the latest to ask colleagues to postpone their Christmas parties, fearing the new variant could lead to increased levels of staff absences during the period. festivals.
Scientists fear that the new variant of Omicron may be more transmissible or more elusive to existing immunity than other strains of the virus.
The government responded by reintroducing compulsory mask wearing in some settings in England, while tightening self-isolation rules and travel restrictions.
However, recent days have also seen mixed messages from government ministers and public health officials on what festive celebrations, including Christmas, should look like this year.
This has drawn criticism within the hospitality industry, which has reported the cancellation of some Christmas parties.
Mais M. Dowden echoed Prime Minister Boris Johnson by stating that people should not abandon their existing plans.
“We haven’t changed the advice about who is involved in hospitality – so going to the pub, going to a restaurant, etc.” “, he added.
“And in fact, I think most pubs and restaurants until recently have done really well this season and we’re not discouraging people from doing that. “
Mr Dowden later revealed that the Tories themselves were pursuing a planned Christmas party.
“I think there is a Conservative Party political party, so to speak, a Christmas party, I think it is still planned, and I have no intention of canceling it as president. of the Conservative Party, ”he told BBC Breakfast.
“It will be just a normal Christmas meeting of the staff who are in London, we also have staff in Leeds, and this is very much by the rules, and I urge people to stay calm and carry on with their plans.
“We’re not changing our plans either. Of course, if the situation changes and the rules need to be updated, we will abide by the rules as they are. “
Deputy Labor Party Leader Angela Rayner has revealed that a review of the party’s Christmas meetings led to the decision that a major Labor parliamentary meeting will no longer take place.
However, she added, “We’ve made it pretty clear that we don’t think people should cancel their Christmas gatherings.
“But we think the government should give people clear advice on what to do. “
It is understood that other Labor party events are still being planned.
In his Sky News interview, Mr Dowden added that the government’s response to Omicron was “sufficient at this point”.
And he said he was ‘confident’ the British would be able to ‘have a better Christmas than last year’, though he urged people to get their COVID shots when called upon to. to do.
“All of our advice is based on scientific evidence and indeed the Chief Medical Officer [Professor Chris Whitty] and senior scientific advisor [Sir Patrick Vallance] attending Cabinet and were in Cabinet when we discussed it earlier this week, ”he said.
“This is why we have opted for this balanced and proportionate package of measures.
“So it’s true that unlike before in England people will have to wear masks on public transport and they will have to wear masks in retail stores and we have tightened border restrictions considerably.
“We believe these are necessary and appropriate steps, but beyond that people can continue with their plans as before.
“So I would tell people to stay calm, to continue with your Christmas plans as already defined. “
Your Omicron Questions Answered: Watch Special With COVID Experts on Sky News at 7 p.m.