Boris Johnson to hold No10 press conference at 6pm TONIGHT to announce triggering of Plan B Covid restrictions

BORIS Johnson will hold a Downing St press conference tonight to announce he's triggering new Covid restrictions to battle Omicron.

The PM will appear at the podium at 6pm to update the nation on the fight against the pandemic as the new variant spreads rapidly across Britain.

He is poised to announce that Plan B will come into force as early as tonight.

That would see Brits ordered to work from home and vaccine passports brought in for large venues like nightclubs.

But in better the news the PM will also hail a new Covid treatment, molnupiravir, which will be given to patients in the UK from next week.

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant has prompted fears Christmas will be left in chaos for millions of Brits for a second year running.

Scientists yesterday said the new Covid strain seems to be three times more infectious than previous variants.

And they revealed that up to 1,000 Brits each day could now be catching the highly contagious form of the virus — with new cases ­doubling every three days.

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Grim plans to slow the progress of the variant have been war-gamed by Downing Street.

The PM had hoped not to impose fresh restrictions until at least January, but has been forced to act by its rapid spread.

Measures set to be announced today including ordering Brits to work from home once in the run up to Christmas.

Football and music fans could also be required to show vaccine passports to enter crowded venues.

The desperate measures come after the Prime Minister told a Cabinet meeting that “early indications are that it is more transmissible than Delta”.

Mr Johnson admitted it was still too early to tell if the strain was worse but said evidence pointed in that direction.

Number 10 said it is prepared to act swiftly against the threat — although officials insisted there are currently no plans to bring in extra restrictions.

Party scandal

Boris is also likely to face a barrage of tricky questions over the growing No 10 Christmas Party scandal.

Last night damning footage emerged showing Downing St staff joking about the lockdown-busting "cheese and wine" knees-up.

There are also fears the scandal over the Downing St Christmas Party will dent public compliance with any new measures.

Tory MP Charles Walker said: “The No 10 party means that any future lockdowns will be advisory, whatever the law says.”

The PM is being engulfed by a growing storm over the lockdown-breaking bash, which No 10 still denies took place.

He is set to face a barrage of questions from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at a blockbuster PMQs this lunchtime.

Last night the Met Police said it's reviewing leaked footage of his then press secretary Allegra Stratton joking with colleagues about the party.

The video was taken of a rehearsal for the planned daily televised press conference from No 10, which were later scrapped.

In it one of the PM's advisers asked: "I’ve just seen reports on Twitter that there was a Downing Street Christmas party on Friday night, do you recognise those reports?”

Ms Stratton joked: "I went home!" before she paused to consider how to respond.

The aide added: "Would the prime minister condone having a Christmas party?”

There was no Christmas party

Ms Stratton, who was due to lead daily political press briefings in the £2.5million press room before the plan was ditched earlier this year, laughed and replied: "what's the answer?"

Another No10 staffer popped up to say: "It wasn't a party, it was cheese and wine."

Ms Stratton added: "Is cheese and wine alright? It was a business meeting…"

She went on to warn her colleagues the mock briefing "is recorded" and "this fictional party was a business meeting, and it was not socially distanced".

The video was taken on December 22, just days after the alleged gathering was said to have taken place in No10.

Ministers and the Government have repeatedly denied that a bash took place in the heart of Government when London was under Tier 3 restrictions – meaning gatherings were banned.

In-person business meetings were allowed but only when strictly necessary, and had limits on numbers.

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Just days later Tier 4 was introduced, cancelling Christmas for millions.

The PM was grilled again on the bash last night, saying: "I am satisfied myself that the guidelines were followed at all times."

Downing Street said in response to the leaked footage last night: "There was no Christmas party. Covid rules have been followed at all times."

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