Google will not allow UK workers to return to the office in January due growing concerns about Omicron coronavirus.

MailOnline reports that Google has told its staff in the US to cancel any parties or social events until 2022. This follows a spate of big business cancellations.

Ronan Harris, the managing director for Google UK and Ireland, also told workers that any social events – including this year’s Christmas party – must be delayed until next year. 

Google stated in August it expected workers to arrive in three days per week starting January 10, the latest, and ending its voluntary home-work policy.

Yesterday, however, executives informed employees that they would extend the deadline past that date with no set return. 

Google maintained that its decision was consistent with earlier guidance, which stated that any return would be subject to local conditions.

Google reported that nearly 40% of U.S. workers have visited an office within the last week, while other regions report higher numbers.

However, many employees protested the mandate to immunize those who work on US government contracts. 

Google staff were expected to be back at one of their three London HQs by

Google employees were to return by the third London headquarters. 

Ronan Harris (pictured), Vice President and MD for Google UK and Ireland, told staff that face-to-face events and business meetings have to be given the go-ahead by a company director

Ronan Harris, Vice President and Director for Google UK and Ireland (pictured), told employees that face-to–face meetings and business events need to be approved by the company director

Which Christmas celebration should I attend? How Britain’s largest employers will handle this Christmas party for their staff

Google was also the first company to offer its workers the option of working from home during the pandemic. There are 85 of these offices in almost 60 countries.

Europe has recorded 79 Omicron cases so far, the Omicron variant was first discovered in south Africa last month. 

MailOnline revealed on Wednesday that Google urged staff to cancel in-person social gatherings until 2022 amid a wave of festive cancellations over Omicron fears.

Google email its British employees requesting that they’move all planned in-person social occasions until 2022′, and keep them under 15 persons.

Ronan Harris, Vice President and MD for Google UK and Ireland, reportedly told staff that face-to-face events and business meetings have to be given the go-ahead by a company director as fears increase over the Omicron variant. 

The government’s muddled messaging has led to a wave of festive cancellations, with major companies including NatWest, Aviva and Deutsche Bank saying all staff would have to take a lateral flow test before attending their Christmas parties.

Legal & General decided in October that Christmas celebrations should be kept small and team-based; Microsoft is holding a large ‘virtual’ party’; while Lloyd’s decided to hold its annual staff bash in the summer.

According to Prenetics, a survey of more than 2,000 employees in the UK found that 52% of workplaces decided not to host a Christmas party. 

Boris Johnson may change the guidelines to allow businesses who spend millions on staff Christmas parties to receive full reimbursement. 

Today George Freeman, Under Secretary of State, Science, threw Christmas parties for millions of Britons into turmoil after declaring that it was’sensible’ to reduce them to “four to five staff” or to completely eliminate them.

It all depends on the type of business. A small business with four to five people, most of whom are already working in the same place every day, isn’t at great risk. Gathering for a drink doesn’t seem like a significant step up in risk. 

“But, some businesses might bring in hundreds of people from all over the globe to attend a large party. They may then decide that this is sensible considering the current pandemic. I believe that business people are able to make such decisions. 

He said that he would cancel his department’s party, and instead change it to Zoom drinks, amid concern over Omicron’s new variant.

Just hours later, however, Prime Minister Tony Blair received his booster shot on live TV. He then told Sky News that there was no reason to expect Britons not to continue with their original plans.

He stated that people should adhere to the guidelines we have given. “They should not cancel things. It is not necessary and is contrary to what we are saying. In all situations, the most important thing is to make sure you have your booster available when it’s ready.

There is growing uncertainty about the Omicron variant, which is fuelling a meteoric rise in cases in South Africa. Nationally, cases there soared to 11,535 today marking a 370 per cent rise in a week, and up a third on around 8,500 yesterday

The Omicron variant is causing a rapid rise in South African cases. There are increasing concerns about it. The national number of cases rose to 11,535 today, a 37% increase in one week and a third higher than the 8,500 that were yesterday.

George Freeman is the fifth minister to give different advice about festive parties with half of businesses cancelling this year costing UK hospitality ‘billions’.

Sajid Javid caused anger at hospitality executives when he encouraged partygoers take the Covid test. 

They should even consider wearing masks, according to the Health Secretary. 

Yet one of his health ministers, Gillian Keegan, urged: ‘Continue with your Christmas plans, continue with your nativity plays and your Christmas parties.’

Last night Therese Coffey sent more mixed messages on socialising after she warned people to Do not’snogging underneath the mistletoe” during this holiday period.

On Tuesday, Dr Harries suggested that people limit December socializing. Tory MPs were suspicious that Harries was being used as a fall guy by ministers too afraid to accept further restrictions. 

After hospitality executives complained that ministers’ confusing and muddled advice had caused a “catastrophic” 48 hour for their industry, Mr Johnson will intervene on Sky News to clarify his government’s position. 

Boris Johnson and Ministers gave different opinions on the question of whether to have a Christmas party

Dr Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association and the first person to spot the new variant in a patient, said her patients infected with Omicron reported different and much milder symptoms, including tiredness, muscle aches, a sore head and a dry cough. But none reported the tell-tale symptoms of a loss of smell or taste or breathing difficulties

Angelique Coetzee (chair of South African Medical Association) said Omicron-infected patients had different symptoms than hers. She reported a milder, more mild version, such as tiredness and muscle aches. None of the symptoms, such as loss of taste, smell or difficulty breathing, were reported by any of these patients. 

Omicron is in flux, and this is driving a dramatic rise in South Africa’s cases. There was a national rise of 37% in cases to 11 535, an increase of 37% over a week and nearly a third from 8,500 yesterday. 

Within a matter of weeks, the strain has become dominant in the country. After outpacing Delta by a furious pace, 75% now contain the predominant strain. 

However, South African public health professionals and the World Health Organization insist that the cases are not severe and that the vaccines against this strain should be effective despite the lack of information. 

How are the major corporations planning to celebrate Christmas this year? 

NatWestHowever, employees should take the lateral flow test prior to attending parties with colleagues. Attendance is up to them.

Financial Conduct Authority: No centralised Christmas parties – it is up to each team to decide whether they wish to organise a small gathering, and colleagues can make a personal choice on whether they want to attend. 

MicrosoftThere is one large virtual party and some small teams have in-person events. This was the original plan. The event was never scheduled. 

HSBCHowever, bosses are not asking staff to cancel Christmas events. Some may prefer virtual or mixed team events to ensure business continuity. 

Legal & GeneralCovid-19: October, Bosses decided that Christmas celebrations should not be large and should instead be team-based. 

Deutsche BankHowever, the firm doesn’t hold large Christmas parties “for some time”, but each team does. The rule is that all staff must take the lateral flow test prior to or they will not be allowed.

GoogleUK Staff: The Company has asked UK employees to email them asking for their cooperation in moving any planned social events until 2022 and keeping them under 15 people.

BBCStaff Christmas Parties – Restrictions

JP MorganUntil now, has not yet issued guidance for Christmas parties.  

Lloyd’sThe annual staff party was moved to the summer by the bosses, rather than having it at Christmas. This is to take advantage of the warm weather and get staff feedback. 

AvivaStaff must take the Covid test at Christmas party.

DeloitteParties are held within the teams. 

EYChristmas parties in teams still take place

PricewaterhouseCoopersEvent is being held at smaller venues than the firm-wide level. 

KPMGChristmas Parties will be held within the teams.

NHS providersThe Christmas season is approaching and some staff in NHS Trusts were warned not to mix with large groups. 

Today’s WHO press conference saw officials say that it is more likely to infect people with the Covid variant than Delta. That is why it is rapidly spreading in Guateng province, where upto 80 per cent of residents have natural immunity. Only 25% of South Africans have been vaccinated against Covid. 

However, despite all the optimism, South African hospital admissions are already on the rise. Today’s numbers of 274 were up 180 percent from last Thursday. 

It came as a Christmas party at the Louise seafood restaurant in Oslo saw up to 60 people contract Omicron in what is likely to be the world’s biggest outbreak of the new strain so far. 

Norwegian epidemiologists have rejected the possibility that the infection is Delta variant. They said it was Omicron since at least one Scatec employee had just returned from South Africa’s office in Cape Town.

And in another twist, Scatec has insisted only vaccinated employees were allowed to attend the Christmas party last Friday and they needed a negative test result beforehand.  

Another of the super-spreaders in the company was found to be drinking at an Irish bar in the same city that night. This raises fears about more infected people.

Norway has more than 71% full-vaccinated people than Brits (69%%) and Americans (59%).

Omicron may be more aggressive or less deadly than Delta. Scientists insist they have three weeks to analyze the data. That leaves bars, restaurants, and million of Britons in suspense. 

UK Hospitality Chief Kate Nicholls urged people to not postpone festive celebrations. She told MailOnline that she was urging them to tell everyone: “Individual business will have its own booking policy and more than usual have been asking deposits for larger groups bookings.

“However, other people won’t have contingencies and will all incur substantial costs for cancellations last-minute.

“It’s important to keep in mind that both the operators and the customers have made significant investments to make sure they’re safe. SAGE has recommended measures to improve ventilation, sanitation and hygiene. This makes it safer for guests to visit hospitality venues than their homes.

Sacha Lord is the Greater Manchester night-time economist adviser. She said that Tuesday’s UK Health Security Agency advice to people not to socialise was “catastrophic” for the industry.  

Sky News was informed by him that the last 48 hours have been a disaster for the sector. 

“We have seen cancellations at work, and flights being cancelled. It’s a massive domino effect. 

“This doesn’t only concern restaurants; this encompasses all of the ecology surrounding it. It’s not just the restaurant, but the entire supply chain. 

“December can be a great time to have fun – you can make up to 25% of your annual turnover during December. 

They were told that it was taken away at eleventh hour.