Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he would be cutting down on hugs from his mother if he visits her over Christmas as he urged caution due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
He told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: “If I’m going to see my mum, for example, who’s elderly, like most very old people, she’s more vulnerable than younger people.
“You know, I will take a test and you know, I might, you know, just have not the usual amount of hugs I get from my mum.
“You just take a little bit of caution. I think that’s a sensible response.”
Mr Javid said it remained an “individual decision” whether people went to Christmas parties.
He said many of the festive gatherings he had been invited to had been cancelled or scaled back, adding: “I think that’s true up and down the country.”
But he said the situation was not “a lockdown at all, by any means”.
“What it is, is people taking their own individual decisions,” he said.
The Health Secretary said the “big difference with Christmas last year” was the existence of vaccinations, antiviral medication, other treatments for Covid-19 and the testing system.
But Mr Javid did not rule out new coronavirus measures before Christmas, describing advice from Government scientific advisers warning of the possible impact on hospital admissions from Omicron as “sobering”.
When it was suggested to him he was not ruling out a circuit-breaker or new restrictions before Christmas, he said: “There are no guarantees in this pandemic, I don’t think.
Fast-spreading Omicron variant
“At this point we just have to keep everything under review.”
He said there was “a lot that we still don’t know” about Omicron.
“We know this thing is spreading rapidly. We know already now that in London, it’s around 80% of infections, in England it’s around 60% of infections,” he added.
Mr Javid also said he understood why people might question why they should follow coronavirus restrictions if it appears Whitehall had not, but expressed confidence that the public would respond to any new rules.
He told Trevor Phillips On Sunday on Sky News: “If we do have to take further measures as the situation develops, if we have to do that, then I believe the British people will respond in the same way they have throughout this pandemic, where is they understand the issues, they know just how important it is for them and their families, and they will respond accordingly.”