'Think about who you mix with' - Bristol health boss on new Omicron Covid variant

People walk past a 'Stay Home Save Lives' sign on Broadmead in Bristol during England's third national
Bristol's director of public health as urged people to think about how they are socialising this Christmas.

Bristol's director of public health has warned people should be "careful" about how they socialise this Christmas as more details emerge about the new Covid Omicron variant.

Christina Gray said rates of Covid-19 in Bristol and the surrounding areas are stabilising and beginning to decrease - but warned people cannot afford to become complacent.

She said Bristol City Council has been put "on alert" due to the new variant but advice to residents and visitors "remains the same".

"The new variant of concern simply reminds us that Covid has not gone away - it is still circulating the globe," she said.

But she advised people to be "careful" about how they socialise and who with.

"We're very fortunate that we've got this very strong vaccination programme that we've managed to stabilise things largely in the UK, but that's a very precious place to be and we need to protect it," she explained.

"We do need to continue to think about how we're socialising, who we are socialising with and the bringing back of face coverings.

"We've been advising - and the Government has been advising - on the continuation of face coverings in public places.

"Today (November 30) it became mandatory. That's just a reminder, a signal of the seriousness of the current situation with regard the new variant.

"So provided we continue sensibly, that we take sensible precautions then we will minimise the risk for everybody."

Ms Gray is encouraging everybody to get their first, second and booster vaccines as soon as possible.

As part of new measures to tackle the Omicron variant, the Government has extended the booster programme to all over 18s.

All those in England who are eligible will be offered the third jab by the end of January, Boris Johnson said.

"The more of the population that are fully vaccinated, the better the protection we've got and the more easily we'll be able to get back to some semblance of normality," Ms Gray added.

"And if you haven't got round to getting your first vaccination - it's not at all too late."