Over half of people say they are worried about the new variant
While the Prime Minister says Britons can press on with Christmas parties, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty has urged caution in the wake of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron. As part of a Downing Street press conference last week, Whitty said Britons should "deprioritise" some plans to safeguard other important meetings with loved ones.
New YouGov research for The Times shows that overall, three in ten people (31%) say they have made changes to their routine due to the Omicron variant. This includes 16% who have now called off going to a Christmas party they otherwise would have attended. Another 13% say they have not visited friends or family, and 11% have cancelled pub and restaurant trips.
Following the new work from home advice, at the time of fieldwork (14-15 Dec) some 9% of the general population say they have stopped going to their workplace because of Omicron. Some 6% have stopped using public transport, and 3% have called it quits at the gym.
In London, where cases of Omicron make up half of recorded infections, some 45% have made changes to their plans - the highest of any of the regions in the UK. This includes 22% of Londoners who have cancelled Christmas parties and social visits to friends. Londoners are also twice as likely as the general public to have been forced by Omicron to return to working from home (18% versus 9%).
It has been reported that the Royal Family have called off their Christmas lunch, and one in eight (13%) Britons have followed suit with changes to their Christmas plans. This includes 5% who have cancelled plans to visit others, and the same proportion have called off having people over to visit them. A further 7% have cancelled other meet ups with loved ones.
It has also been reported that a Christmas lockdown is not out of the question, as cases of Omicron continue to rise. As of 14-15 December, the variant is worrying some 54% of people while around two in five (39%) say they are not worried. Concern is highest among the elderly, including 66% of those aged 65 and over.