People should “keep calm and carry on” with Christmas parties despite growing concern over the Omicron variant.

It comes as scientists have urged people to be aware of the risks associated with Christmas gatherings "even if they’ve been tested and vaccinated".

Conservative Party chairman and MP Oliver Dowden said his party had no intention of cancelling Christmas drinks and that others should continue to plan celebrations.

The news comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who received his booster dose of the Covid vaccine on Thursday, urged the public to “continue as they are” within the new measures.

New measures include the re-introduction of face masks in certain situations, stricter self-isolation measures and the extended booster jab programme.

Senior members of the Government - including Health Secretary Sajid Javid - have encouraged people to stick to their original Christmas plans in 2021.

Government update on Christmas parties

Mr Dowden 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.”

The former culture secretary said he understood there were “concerns” about the Omicron variant of coronavirus, but argued the Government had put in place “sufficient” measures.

“People should continue with their plans as intended,” Mr Dowden said, as he encouraged people to take up the offer of a booster jab.

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.”

Meanwhile, the health minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that people could take a lateral flow test before heading to Christmas parties.

Mr Javid said: “If you are invited to a Christmas party, there’s quite a few people there, maybe you want to take an LFT (lateral flow test) before you go.

Go to the party, but just be cautious.”

Advice on attending Christmas parties

Medical experts have struck a more cautious tone on the Christmas party debate, urging people to avoid large groups this winter.

Influential scientist Professor Peter Openshaw said he would not feel comfortable attending a party as the “chances of getting infected were too high”.

Prof Openshaw, a member of the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told BBC’s Question Time: “Personally, I wouldn’t feel safe going to a party at the moment, if it involves being indoors in an enclosed space where you’re close to other people, and people are not wearing masks.

“Even if they’ve been tested and vaccinated, I wouldn’t feel safe.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) said people should be encouraged to “avoid large groups” and meet outdoors where possible over the festive period.

The debate over social gatherings comes as scientists continue to study the possible threat posed by Omicron.

The Omicron Covid variant was first detected in South Africa. 

Experts in the UK believe their research on the impact of booster vaccines could offer hope in the fight against Omicron.

The CovBoost study found that booster jabs may well offer good protection in the face of the variant.

Read more: Does the Covid vaccine work against Omicron variant? What we know so far

A team studying the effects of third doses said the body’s T cell immune response after a booster shot is such that it may provide protection from hospital admission and death.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Covid swab test, pictured. Photo: PA.Covid swab test, pictured. Photo: PA.

The study also backs up the UK’s decision to offer Pfizer or Moderna as a third shot, with mRNA jabs leading to the most significant rise in immunity levels.

Professor Saul Faust, trial lead and director of the NIHR Clinical Research Facility at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said the vaccines worked well against existing variants, although Omicron was not tested in the study.

Asked specifically about Omicron, he said: “Our hope as scientists is that protection against hospitalisation and death will remain intact.”