(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Just when Australia was gearing up for a pandemic-free Christmas, the Omicron variant threatens to throw everything out the window.

The World Health Organization says it is spreading at an "unprecedented rate”, but our Christmas woes aren't all down to the new strain. They're down to ad hoc restrictions and mixed messages. 

This morning, New South Wales recorded its highest number of new daily cases since September: 1360. Restrictions eased today; masks are no longer required in shops, and QR check-in codes are only needed at high-risk venues.