MP urges people to avoid kissing at Christmas parties amid Omicron cases

A Government minister has warned Christmas partygoers against “snogging under the mistletoe” amid rising cases of the Omicron variant.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey weighed in on the Christmas party debate as part of ITV’s Peston programme.

It comes after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and health minister Sajid Javid encouraged people to continue making plans for Christmas gatherings.

The official spokesperson for No 10 has insisted there is currently “nothing in the rules to prevent anyone from having Christmas parties or gathering in that way”.

Government advice on Christmas parties

The Work and Pensions Secretary suggested kissing should be avoided during Christmas parties – particularly “people you don’t already know”.

Ms Coffey told ITV’s Peston programme that “we should all be trying to enjoy the Christmas ahead of us”.

She added: “For what it’s worth, I don’t think there should be much snogging under the mistletoe.

“(You) don’t need to do things like that. But I think we should all be trying to enjoy the Christmas ahead of us and that’s why we’re working so hard to get the deployment of as many vaccines as possible.”

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said vaccines can do “a lot of the heavy lifting” to fight against the Omicron variant, though he acknowledged there were “so many uncertainties”.

Suggesting measures such as social distancing and mask wearing, he told Sky News: “If people are sensible then I don’t see any reason why we can’t all enjoy Christmas again, unless this variant takes a real turn for the worse.

“And we’re really not going to know that for a couple of weeks.”

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