Tougher Covid rules being debated by government ministers to tackle Omicron spread, reports say

Would people accept another lockdown? ITV News Reporter Lewis Warner spoke to people queuing for their booster jabs.

He also reports on how rising Covid cases are impacting the supply of lateral flow tests, sport and travel, as an emergency Cobra meeting is set to take place.

Stricter Covid-19 measures could be brought as government ministers explore ways to tackle the rise in Omicron cases, reports have suggested.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was presented on Friday with a number of options for a so-called Plan C, ranging from “mild guidance to nudge people, right through to lockdown”, according to the Financial Times.

The newspaper quoted sources who said Mr Johnson still wanted to go down the guidance route, but that he also had to be realistic about the threat of Omicron.

Meanwhile, the Times reported draft regulations for a two-week 'circuit breaker' were being prepared. And the regulations would ban non-work-related indoor gatherings, and pubs and restaurants would have to serve customers outdoors.

A waiter carries meals to some of the few customers dining at Cassia Sambuca restaurant in North Shields Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

And according to the BBC, leaked minutes from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said scientists had told ministers tougher measures need to be brought in “very soon”.

The BBC reported the advisers had recommended moving to restrictions seen in step one and two of the roadmap out of lockdown in spring. This includes a ban on indoor mixing and indoor hospitality.

It comes as the UK reported more than 90,000 new Covid cases in another record daily total on Friday.

Half of this weekend's top-flight football games have been postponed because of outbreaks at clubs. Six of 10 scheduled Premier League matches and 19 English Football League fixtures have been called off.

Aston Villa’s match against Burnley was the latest to be postponed after more positive Covid cases in the Villa squad meant there were not enough players to field a team, the Premier League has announced.

The UK’s devolved administrations are calling for more financial support as Omicron cases rise. A Cobra meeting will be held over the weekend with the leaders of the devolved nations.

A government spokesperson said: “The government will continue to look closely at all the emerging data and we’ll keep our measures under review as we learn more about this variant.”

It comes after Rishi Sunak cut his trip to the US short and flew back from California for crisis talks with business leaders concerned about the impact of Covid measures.

The Chancellor met virtually with the Confederation of British Industry, the Federation of Small Businesses, and the British Chambers of Commerce on Friday afternoon.

The groups raised concerns about the impact of cancellations across hospitality in the run-up to Christmas, and the importance of clear messaging from the government.

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Prime Minister Mr Johnson has warned Omicron is “a very serious threat to us now”.

During Friday's visit to a vaccination centre in Hillingdon, west London, he said: “We are seeing a considerable wave coming through and people have got to be prepared and they have got to understand what it entails.”

Asked about conflicting messages from the government on socialising over the Christmas period, Mr Johnson said: “What both Chris Whitty and I are saying is that there is a big wave of Omicron coming through.

“People need to be prudent. You need to think about your budget of risk.”

Boris Johnson has hailed the ramping up of the booster jab effort Credit: Paul Edwards/PA

A further 93,045 Covid-19 cases were recorded in the UK as of 9am on Friday, a new record since the pandemic began and a rise of 4,669 on the previous record set on Thursday.

And 7,611 people are in hospital with the virus, a rise of 163 patients (2%) on the previous week.

London has seen some of the biggest rises in cases in the last seven days.