'Snog who you wish' under the mistletoe this Christmas, Sajid Javid says

Health Secretary contradicts another senior minister on mistletoe kissing guidance

People should "snog who they wish" under the mistletoe this Christmas, the health secretary has said in a rebuke of Covid advice given by another senior minister.

Sajid Javid told ITV News "it's got nothing to do with the government who you kiss", when asked about how people should behave over the Christmas period given the worrying new Omicron variant is spreading through the UK.

He said: "People can snog who they wish. I'll certainly be kissing my wife under the mistletoe, it's a Javid family tradition and it's got nothing to do with the government who you kiss, or anything like that.

"There's guidance already out there, just be cautious and enjoy yourselves"

But on Wednesday evening Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said it would be a good idea to avoid kissing people.

She told ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston that people should be "trying to enjoy the Christmas ahead of us” but added: "I don’t think there should be much snogging under the mistletoe".

When Peston asked: "Just no snogging?", Ms Coffey replied: "Well, not with people you don't already know."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer agreed with Mr Javid on kissing. He said: "I don't think it's the role of government to dictate who people can kiss or not."

The government is struggling to control its coronavirus messaging, with ministers and advisers giving contradictory guidance.

Boris Johnson has been urging people to just follow the official guidance, which says people should wear masks in shops and on public transport, as well as enforcing stricter Covid testing for international arrivals.

The prime minister said "people should follow the guidance that we've set out and people shouldn't be cancelling things, and there's no need for that at all, that's not what we're saying".

He said apart from the measures introduced, such as mask wearing in shops and on public transport, "we want people to continue as they are".

Mr Johnson has insisted he does not want people to cancel their planned events. "You talk about kids in nativity plays and that kind of thing," the prime minister said, "I don't think there's any need to stop that at all".