The Archbishop of Westminster and leader of Catholics in England and Wales has urged the Government not to reintroduce restrictions on churches amid record Covid-19 infection rates.
Data published on Thursday, suggesting the Omicron strain might cause less severe illness than the previously-dominant Delta variant, has fuelled speculation in Westminster that Boris Johnson will resist imposing further restrictions in England after Christmas.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols said it was clear that large spaces such as churches were “not places where we spread the virus”.
“I think this country has shown that people can make good judgements themselves,” he added.
“We’re at that point of saying we understand the risk. We know what we should do. Most people are sensible and cautious. We don’t need stronger impositions to teach us what to do.”
It comes after a further 122,186 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases were recorded in the UK as of 9am on Christmas Eve, another record daily figure, while 137 people died within 28 days of testing positive.
But in England, the Government may choose to issue new voluntary guidance on limiting contacts rather than risk another damaging Tory rebellion by recalling Parliament to impose new rules.
The Prime Minister has indicated he will not hesitate to act after Christmas if required – with Monday expected to be the first opportunity for ministers to consider whether changes are needed beyond the existing Plan B measures.