GLOOMY calls to impose more Covid restrictions were today swiftly dismissed by a top minister. 

Business minister Paul Scully said the Government "doesn't see the need" for fresh measures despite soldiers being deployed to ease the load on hospitals.

He pointed to "encouraging" signs that London was over the peak of the outbreak amid clear evidence that Omicron is far milder than previous strains.

And thanks to the booster rollout helping keep society open he declared: "2022 will be much brighter than 2021."

Ministers are throwing the kitchen sink at the booster programme, which The Sun's Jab's Army campaign is helping to turbo-charge.

Covid infections are still high and yesterday hit 179,000, luckily down on the previous few days.

Some 200 troops have been sent to hospitals to help plug absences of staff off sick or isolating.

Mr Scully said we still need to be "on our guard" but was optimistic no more restrictions were needed.

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He told TalkRadio: "Having the army working within our hospitals is having extra bodies to cope with NHS pressures.

"It's not the army on the streets in combat and weapons or anything like that. It's actually just helping those staff pressures."

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It comes after it was reported a total of 24 hospital trusts on Wednesday declared critical incidents amid pressure to slash isolation to five days.

Current Plan B measures such as working from home and mandatory masks are being reviewed before they expire on January 26.

Travel restrictions were also eased this week to axe pre-departure and PCR tests for arrivals.

Sajid Javid reportedly warned that loosening the holiday rules could lead to more lockdowns as new variants won't be caught at the border.

But he was overruled by Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps, according to the Times.

Mr Scully said today: "I don't believe at this stage that we need any more lockdowns.

"What we are doing today is announcing the fact that the money for hospitality, retail, leisure and accommodation is available now for those businesses who have been hard-pressed throughout this pandemic, and especially that Christmas period when Plan B came in, for those businesses to be able to approach their local authorities and get the financial support they need."

The PM this week also ruled out a return to full fat lockdown and hopes to take the country "much closer to normality" next month.

Tory MPs praised the PM for resisting doomster demands for more restrictions and urged him to throw off the remaining curbs.

Mr Johnson said in the Commons: "As Omicron blows through and it is is very much my hope and belief that it will, I do believe we will get back to something much closer to normality."

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