Update (1330ET): BoJo held a press conference Wednesday evening at 10 Downing Street in the UK where he laid out his his plans for adopting "Plan B" restrictions in England (to fight the omicron variant, which government advisors have warned him could overtake delta as the UK's dominant strain by Christmas).
The PM started by insisting "we have to act on the data."
The only problem with this is that there isn't any data to act on when it comes to omicron. Only 568 cases have been confirmed in the UK so far, and it's not like the UK's government advisors haven't been wrong before. Though the PM did concede that the actual number of omicron cases is much higher.
The senior aide who featured in a recent leaked video that greatly embarrassed BoJo's government also announced her resignation.
UK: Government adviser Allegra Stratton announced her resignation and offered her "profound apologies" after a video emerged of her laughing about a reported Downing Street Christmas party at a mock press conference. pic.twitter.com/svs18hgmVe— Yid Info (@YidInfoNews) December 8, 2021
As for 'Plan B', the prime minister announced that face masks would be mandatory in theaters and cinemas starting Friday, while vaccine passports will be required for anybody trying to enter a club, a large sporting event or a concert. Restaurants and pubs will remain exempt from the new mask wearing rules. To qualify for the passport, people will need to have received at least two jabs.
BoJo also asked that all Britons who are able should return to working from home starting Monday.
So far, omicron hasn't put a single Briton in the hospital, nor has it contributed to any (confirmed) deaths.
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Update (0800ET): More details about BoJo's "Plan B" are coming into focus. The plan could be announced as early as Wednesday evening, or possibly Thursday. According to the BBC, the UK cabinet is meeting at 15:45GMT and has scheduled a press conference for 17:30GMT on Plan B.
As of now, the UK government is reportedly drawing up plans that will include a Christmas work from home order as PM Johnson considers measures to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. The measures are expected to include the introduction of vaccine passports to slow the spread of Omicron, along with a renewed work-from-home guidance, vaccine passports for nightclubs, alongside guidance on indoor and outdoor events.
Elsewhere in Europe, Norway's Prime Minister said they must install more restrictions to control the spread of COVID but must avoid a full lockdown of society. The PM added that there should be no more than 10 visitors in private homes, while bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol from midnight every day. The government will introduce new economic compensations for companies hit by COVID restrictions.
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Since the start of the pandemic, we have cautioned readers to look past what political leaders are saying about lockdowns and vaccine mandates intended to "keep us safe", and focus more on ulterior motives, like pushing the Fed to monetize mountains of debt to keep the market-sustaining money tap open. Like with every other major decision, it's important to ask oneself: Cui bono - who benefits?
With that in mind, UK PM Boris Johnson is facing bitter criticism from Britons after he allegedly rushed the announcement of England's "Plan B" - BoJo's more restrictive version of President Biden's "winter plan" - allegedly to try and distract from a national scandal caused by leaked footage of a 10 Downing Street Christmas Party held last winter, when holiday parties were expressly forbidden by COVID lockdown rules.
The FT, which broke the news of BoJo's "Plan B" plans, described the impending announcement as a "dead cat" - that is, something done to draw attention away from a much bigger scandal.
One said the move to Plan B — much earlier than expected — was a “dead cat” move by Johnson to distract attention from the furore over a leaked video of a mock Downing Street press conference showing staff laughing about the party, which breached Covid-19 rules.
The new restrictions - intended to try and stop the spread of omicron - are expected to be announced at a press conference as early as Wednesday, with the new measures put before parliament on Thursday.
Still, according to the UK's top COVID scientists, the new lockdowns couldn't come soon enough, as cases of the omicron variant are believed to be doubling "every two to three days." Neil Ferguson, one of the UK's leading coronavirus experts, warned on Wednesday that if no further measures were introduced, the peak of the current wave of infection would likely arrive in January, and that new infections caused by omicron could potentially overtake delta by Christmas. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen.
But word of BoJo's rush to impose "Plan B" in England has rattled markets in the UK by stoking fears that more omicron lockdowns would be announced in the UK, and elsewhere in Europe. The plan includes requiring vaccine passports to enter large buildings, along with an order to work from home.
British travel and leisure stocks tumbled Wednesday on the news, with Wizz, EasyJet, IAG all down about 4%. Restaurant Group dropped as much as 6.2%, while Cineworld shed 5.6%; the two companies were the worst performers on the All-Shares Index. Gilts, the UK's government bonds, rallied on the news, sending yields down 3 basis points to outperform German bunds. It's expected that "Plan B" will extend requirements for vaccine passports for travelers, and potentially cause up to £18 billion ($23.75 billion) in economic damage, according to documents seen by the Guardian.
In the face of a national uproar caused by the Christmas Party revelations, UK health secretary Sajid Javid pulled out of a number of national broadcast interviews that had been scheduled for Wednesday after a video showing BoJo's top aides holding a mock press conference where they joked about the Christmas Party (which they later denied happened).
Javid had been expected to discuss the UK’s vaccination efforts on the BBC and Sky News, as well as a number of radio stations, delivering an update on the one-year anniversary of the first jab being given in Britain.
Adding to the sting from the news of the Downing Street Christmas Party, ITV also published this video from a mock press conference featuring staffers joking about the Christmas Party, which they later denied happened.
It's an early Christmas present for the opposition...and any European leaders who are tired of BoJo's brusque negotiating style.