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Just another day at the office

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Probably the most exciting gift this Christmas would be to see a British PM having resigned for his taking part in a virtual pub quiz.

If botching Brexit and using the British people as an experiment when coronavirus first reached Europe is not going to trip him up, then why not the infamous Downing Street party during lockdown.

It is one of those classic cautionary tales with a life of its own and the power to bring down a government.

There is something quintessentially British about the scandal that has shaken public confidence in Boris and his ability to keep the country together.

UK cabinet secretary Simon Case, a top civil servant, was tasked with conducting a probe into claims of parties held in Downing Street and other government buildings last year in a breach of COVID lockdown rules.

He is accused of being aware of another party in his own office.

A virtual quiz on 17 December 2020 took place for members of Case’s private office.

The event was described as a “Christmas Party” and involved six people in the office and six taking part at home.

And in typical Cypriot fashion, the man chosen to lead the inquiry into Christmasgate at Number 10 was aware of a similar knees-up in his own office.

It seems the festive office party is sacred even in the middle of a pandemic destroying the health system.

I have always believed that office parties should carry a health warning and immunity against saying something stupid in front of the boss.

They are awkward, embarrassing affairs where alcohol is the only escape route and torture for the designated driver.

Boris’ party nightmare unravelled after a video emerged of Number 10 officials joking and laughing about a Christmas party said to have taken place on 18 December 2020.

The party atmosphere at Downing Street came shortly after London went into strict lockdown pubs and restaurants closed, and different households were banned from mixing indoors.

It had to keep up with the festive cheer inside the government when everyone else was told to stay home to save the health service.

There were cheese and wine get-togethers, quizzes and other forms of illicit social interaction that would have had police knocking on your door.

In the wake of such arrogance, it is more difficult for the conservative government to hold any moral authority when advising the British how to behave during the Omicron wave.

Thus, there is an understandable hesitancy in recommending the public to avoid social gatherings and Christmas parties.

Businesses have already taken the initiative in closing operations while the UK experiences a record in COVID cases stoked by the Omicron variant.

Restaurants and other venues are deciding they have no choice but to close early for Christmas due to a flurry of cancelled reservations and concerns about employees’ health.

This Christmas, they are not waiting for government dithering or heeding Boris’ tale of caution, which holds little water.

Certainly, nobody will be holding their breath over the outcome of the inquiry into events that officials pretend never happened.

This year, there’s no escaping it being another COVID-tainted Christmas where we will have to think twice about family gatherings as cases rocket.

Attending a festive party wearing a silly hat is easily avoidable unless you believe the rules don’t apply to you like Boris.

In Cyprus, the government has embraced the holiday season by making it uncomfortable for the unvaccinated.

Anyone without a jab or booster history are excluded from hospitality and social events such as weddings or sports stadiums.

Due to the vagaries of the health decrees, you can attend the wedding ceremony in church but not the reception afterwards.

The unjabbed can also visit shopping malls but not sit down for a coffee or a bite to eat.

Not exactly the Christmas spirit Cypriots are renowned for.

So like it or not, Santa – a civil servant at the Health Ministry – will be dropping off a vaccine, face mask, and a free test kit under your tree.

It should spark a few family arguments over the dinner table, but at least you won’t have to mind the guests.