Don't kiss strangers under mistletoe - minister

Don't kiss strangers under mistletoe - minister

People should not kiss anyone they do not know over Christmas to reduce the spread of Covid, government minister Therese Coffey has said.

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Work and Pensions Secretary Ms Coffey said people should enjoy Christmas but: "I don't think there should be much snogging under the mistletoe".

She had been asked by ITV's Robert Peston whether the public should limit socialising over the next few weeks.

She added the government was working hard so we can all enjoy a "knees-up".

In recent days, fears over the new Covid variant Omicron have led many people to question whether it could affect celebrations over the festive season.

The government has already strengthened Covid restrictions in response to the variant, with face masks mandatory on public transport and in shops, and all contacts of suspected Omicron cases required to isolate. All arrivals into the UK must also take a PCR test within two days.

And some businesses have expressed concern, with the hospitality sector reporting customer cancellations, while some firms are choosing to hold smaller Christmas parties.

Earlier this week, Dr Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency, said that people should not socialise "when we don't particularly need to".

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people not to cancel Christmas events like parties - and said the government was not changing its guidance "about how people should be living their lives".

Health Secretary Sajid Javid then said that people should consider measures such as taking Covid tests and wearing face masks when socialising - however he reiterated that there was no need to call off Christmas parties.

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