Omicron: wind of “panic” in the United Kingdom before the holidays

Omicron: wind of & ldquo; panic & rdquo; in the UK before the holidays

MISE & Agrave; DAY

“It's panic once again”: between last minute cancellations and long queues in front of vaccination centers, the British upset their plans in the hope of spending Christmas holidays without Omicron. & nbsp;

Last year the Christmas celebrations were reduced to the bare minimum after the emergence of the Alpha variant of the coronavirus. The British hope to make up for it this year but the spectacular resurgence of COVID-19 cases, due to the Omicron variant, has turned everything upside down.

While the government has imposed only very limited measures (telework, indoor masks and health pass for mass gatherings), some play it safe and limit their outings to avoid being contaminated until one Christmas week. & nbsp;

Although not formally banned, many “Christmas parties” of companies and institutions in the UK have been canceled, much to the chagrin of pubs.

“This week is meant to be our week busiest of the year, but it hasn't been busy at all, ”says Jessie Sandy, a 28-year-old waiter at the London Hospital Tavern. “We had a lot of cancellations. (…) We had one or two parties per weekend plus Christmas parties but they were all canceled obviously because of the Omicron variant ”.

If Prime Minister Boris Johnson has advised people to “think carefully before you go” to a restaurant or pub, Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, has gone further. He called on Britons to limit their interactions to reduce their chances of catching or transmitting the virus.

Caution in Windsor

Even Queen Elizabeth II, 95, has given up as a precaution her traditional family reunion which was to bring together around fifty people next Tuesday at Windsor Castle, for the first time since the death of her husband Philip in April.

In theaters of the West End, a London borough known for its musicals, many productions have had to cancel certain dates because members of their teams have tested positive for COVID-19. A blow in this usually auspicious period.

For shows that work, nearly a quarter of reserved seats end up empty, according to professionals.

Holiday plans are also falling apart: the British will be banned from entering France from Saturday. The French will have to produce a negative test within 24 hours and isolate themselves on their arrival while awaiting a second negative test.

This decision was justified by France by the “tidal wave” of cases linked to the Omicron variant in the United Kingdom, which on Wednesday reported 78,610 positive cases recorded in 24 hours, unheard of since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

“It's panic once again, the race,” Elena Orsini, 47-year-old Italian told AFP. To escape the new restrictions, she will finally leave Friday evening via Eurotunnel in France rather than Saturday. & Nbsp;

A last minute change which involves an additional cost but after the cancellation of their holiday in France at Christmas last because of the restrictions, “we didn't want to miss this again”.

In the United Kingdom, contamination linked to Omicron is now doubling in less than two days in some regions. Hospitalizations are starting to pick up again, especially in London.

“I'm especially careful this year because I caught COVID exactly around this time last year, so I have nothing could do for my birthday, ”which falls in December,“ nor for Christmas, ”explains Charlie Hinton, a 23-year-old waiter.

This year, he plans to celebrate his birthday but will ask his friends to do an antigen test before the party and consider seeing them outside to limit the risks. & Nbsp;

To protect Omicron , the government is banking on the vaccine booster campaign, hoping to offer a third dose to all adults by the end of December.

With his third injection, Malcolm Porter, 60, a regular at the Au pub White Hart, in Whitechapel (east London) does not intend to change his plans. “I'll go to the pub tonight and Sunday. We have all made our encore so I feel at ease. Finally if you catch it, you catch it … “

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