TEARING up costly and complex travel rules increases the risk of another lockdown, Sajid Javid has warned.
The Health Secretary is understood to have cautioned Boris Johnson before holiday checks were eased this week – but was overruled.
Pre-departure and PCR tests are being axed for arrivals into Britain because Omicron is now so widespread.
The changes were signed off at the Cabinet sub-committee Covid O on Wednesday and welcomed by holidaymakers.
But Mr Javid was dead against the easing and warned it could harm our ability to catch any new variants.
A government source told The Times: "He said that by scrapping them you increase the risk of having to shut down the entire economy. But he lost the argument."
An ally of Mr Javid said: "We have a decision and he's fully behind that."
The PM this week all-but ruled out a return to full-fat lockdown and declared he's not "shutting down our country again".
And thanks to the booster rollout and evidence Omicron is much milder, he wants to take Britain "much closer to normality".
Downing Street is increasingly hopeful of ditching Plan B measures like working from home and mandatory masks when they are reviewed at the end of the month.
One senior government source told The Sun that Cabinet is united in wanting to axe the curbs – apart from Mr Javid who is a “lone voice” against.
They said: “It’s understandable that he takes that view given he has hospitals and medics constantly on at him.
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“But no one else wants to see them extended while the data is in our favour.”
Business minister Paul Scully today 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.
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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.
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.
"We're not over it, in terms of the fact that we're learning to live with Covid. But I'm hoping that 2022, if we get past these next few weeks of pressure, is looking far brighter than 2021."
Mr Scully added: "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."
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