Tories to go ahead with Christmas party despite Omicron risks

The Conservatives are pressing ahead with their Christmas party in spite of scientists’ fears over the spread of Omicron, as their co-chair told people to “keep calm and carry on” with festivities.

Labour has decided to cancel its Christmas function though it is not urging businesses to do the same.

Despite criticism of No 10 for allegedly holding lockdown-busting parties last Christmas, the Conservative party’s co-chair said on Friday that No 10 and the central party would be carrying on with their functions.

“We obviously wouldn’t set out details of private functions in No 10 but, as I say, there will be festive events in the run-up to Christmas,” said Oliver Dowden.

He told Sky News: “The message to people, I think, is fairly straightforward – which is: keep calm, carry on with your Christmas plans. We’ve put the necessary restrictions in place, but beyond that keep calm and carry on.”

Asked about the Tories’ own party plans, he told BBC Breakfast: “I think it is still planned, and I don’t intend to cancel it as chairman of the Conservative party.”

The latest Covid restrictions call for mask-wearing in shops and on public transport but there are no restrictions on socialising, unlike last year before the vaccine programme had been rolled out.

No 10 is facing serious criticism over accusations there was a leaving do and a Christmas gathering with dozens of people crammed into Downing Street for festivities during the lockdown last year. Johnson is alleged to have attended one of them, giving a leaving speech for a departing staff member. No 10 has said “all Covid rules were followed”.

The Metropolitan police said on Friday it had not received any complaints about the parties.

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