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Grant Shapps rules out lockdown over Christmas as number of cases hit three-month high

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Grant Shapps has ruled out another Covid lockdown over Christmas as the number of cases hit a three-month high.

The transport minister said there will be “no problems” seeing loved ones around the holidays this year.

No10 introduced strict restrictions in December that prevented millions from seeing their families, despite Boris Johnson dismissing the possibility that Christmas would be repeatedly canceled for the move.

Scientists have warned that the NHS could be overwhelmed again this winter, with cases reaching 45,066 yesterday, the highest new daily total since 20 July.

Professor Chris Whitty claimed yesterday that this winter will be ‘exceptionally difficult’ for the NHS, even if there is no wave of infections. He said he couldn’t claim that “Christmas will all be fantastic.”

England’s chief physician warned of tough months for the health service as it battles Covid, flu and other seasonal viruses that are enjoying a resurgence due to a lack of natural immunity during lockdowns.

But Mr Shapps dismissed concerns that Britain could be plunged into another lockdown again around Christmas.

Grant Shapps has ruled out another Covid lockdown over Christmas, despite cases hitting three-month high

He told Sky News: ‘Over Christmas last year we were concerned about being able to see loved ones and families.

“There won’t be any problems with that this year.

“And we’ll make sure the supply chain is doing what it’s supposed to do, and that’s what these measures we’re taking, including this change to this cabotage today, are for.”

Health Department bosses posted more than 45,000 Covid cases in the UK yesterday, up 10.7 per cent from last Thursday’s figure of 40,701.

It was the highest new daily total since July 20 – the day after ‘Freedom Day’ in England – when the number of infections reached 46,558. The all-time high was 62,322 on January 6, at the height of the second wave.

The number of people who died from the virus also increased, with 157 recorded victims, a nine percent increase from the previous week.

And the number of hospital admissions also increased by one percent, with 719 admissions on Sunday, the latest date data of which is available.

No10 Admits Proof of Sting May Be Needed in Nightclubs and Sports Fields Under Covid ‘Plan B’ This Winter

Britons may be required to show Covid vaccine passports at locations under Boris Johnson’s Covid ‘Plan B’.

Ministers have slashed plans to approve certification rules for nightclubs and other major venues following a massive Tory protest earlier this month.

But in unveiling his winter plan to fend off another wave of infections, Boris Johnson admitted restrictions like vaccine passports would be “held in reserve.”

Now the government has confirmed that passports will still be part of its ‘Plan B’.

Vaccination certificates are required for people visiting nightclubs, music venues, festivals and sports grounds, in the event that a fourth wave overwhelms the NHS.

Plan A – the country’s first line of defense – funds the distribution of booster vaccines to protect the vulnerable and stinging children.

Plan B – which ministers hope will be enough to prevent the country from succumbing to another full-scale lockdown – also includes strengthening face masks indoors and work-from-home counseling.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Royal College of General Practitioners in Liverpool yesterday, Professor Whitty suggested Britain could be in a worse situation by Christmas.

He said: ‘I wish I could claim the sun-kissed highlands and it will all be fantastic by Christmas, but unfortunately I’m afraid it won’t.’

Experts have long warned of an expected increase this winter, fueled by students returning to school, workers returning to offices and people socializing more indoors.

Ministers are relying on a successful rollout of vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds and boosters for the over-50s, health professionals and the most vulnerable to quell the impact of another wave.

But it has drawn up a ‘Plan B’ that would see the return of face coverings and work from home support if the NHS faces unsustainable pressures.

Professor Whitty said: ‘As far as where Covid will go in the winter, I think winter as a whole will, I regret, be exceptionally difficult for the NHS.

“That is, regardless of whether we have a relatively low but not trivial amount of Covid, or whether we actually have a further increase in the winter.”

He said scientific modellers will all give different forecasts of how the coming months will turn out.

Professor Whitty said: ‘I think what we are sure of is the very best, [what] what we might have faced if something had gone wrong last winter won’t happen, other than an extraordinary variant of the escape mutant.

“But let’s assume we don’t get something that can actually completely bypass our defenses, I think the top risks are much lower.

“But we could certainly rise, we’re just two to three doubling times away from some really pretty serious pressure on the NHS and it’s serious already, but one that will actually be very difficult to deal with.”

‘So the margin of error is quite small.’

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