Boris Johnson refuses to rule out new Covid restrictions before Xmas as Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford threaten MORE

BORIS Johnson today refused to rule out extra Covid restrictions before Christmas in the battle against Omicron.

The PM said he'll take "whatever steps are necessary to protect public health" when grilled on fears of a new lockdown.

But he also suggested further curbs can be avoided if the booster campaign hits "warp speed" in the next fortnight.

He said: "The best thing we can do to protect ourselves, to protect our country, and to ensure we have as normal a Christmas as possible is to get boosted now."

Boris said Omicron is "spiking" across the country and will make up the majority of new cases in London from tomorrow.

And he urged Brits to "set on one side" reports from South Africa that the new variant is a milder form of the virus.

The PM said he believes Plan B will buy enough time to get boosters into arms but repeatedly refused to rule out further restrictions.

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He said: "Throughout the pandemic I've been at great pains to stress to the public that we have to watch where the pandemic is going, and we take whatever steps are necessary to protect public health.

"We think that the steps we're taking, Plan B combined with a hugely ambitious acceleration of the booster campaign, is the right approach and the most important thing everyone can do is to get boosted now.

"Looking at the balance of the risks, looking at the epidemiology, looking at where we are with Omicron, everything we know – and don't forget there are still some important things we don't know about Omicron – this is the best approach.

"The combination of Plan B, which is some sensible steps to slow the spread of the virus, to buy us some time to help reduce the infections and of course the mortality rate, and combine that with rapidly building up our booster defences.

He added: "The reason we're doing this is because it became clear on Friday that two jabs were not enough.

"That was the key moment when we realised we had to accelerate the booster campaign because three jabs does lift your level of protection right back up."

The PM admitted delivering a million boosters a day is a "huge, huge target" but said the NHS response to the challenge was "inspiring".

PM under pressure

His remarks come after Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford both piled pressure on No 10 to tighten the restrictions.

The SNP leader is set to announce new curbs in Scotland as it battles rising cases of Omicron.

They could include restrictions on hospitality and the number of people from different households allowed to meet indoors.

Vaccine passports may also be extended to cover more venues.

Meanwhile Mr Drakeford has reportedly been pushing Boris to announce a full UK-wide lockdown over Christmas.

The Welsh leader has taken to reviewing Covid restrictions week by week, meaning they could be tightened before December 25.

He said Cardiff is ready to put in place "additional protections" in the fight against Omicron.

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