New COVID-19 restrictions announced to stop spread of Omicron
New COVID-19 restrictions have been announced following the discovery of a small number of cases of the Omicron variant in the UK. The new measures include:
- the reintroduction of mandatory face coverings in shops and on public transport
- the reintroduction of the red travel quarantine list for travellers from certain countries
- mandatory PCR testing for anyone entering the UK.
These new measures will be in place from 4am on Tuesday 30 November.
The new measures do not include advice to work from home or require vaccine passports in England, part of the Government’s Plan B for winter.
Early evidence suggests the new Omicron variant - initially reported to the World Health Organization from South Africa on Wednesday 24 November - has a higher re-infection risk.
In addition, the Department for Education is now advising pupils in Year 7 and above, as well as school staff and visitors, to wear face coverings in communal areas. The measure applies to education establishments in England including secondary schools, colleges and universities, as well as staff in childcare settings.
The changes mark the return of the travel red list, which had been cleared of all countries in October. Ten countries in southern Africa are now on the UK's travel red list, meaning that until further notice, any British or Irish residents arriving in the UK after recently visiting any of those countries will have to quarantine in an approved hotel for 10 days. Residents from the countries themselves will not be allowed into the UK until the red list status changes.
The countries placed on it are South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and Zambia.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is expected to issue new advice within the next couple of days about extending the booster vaccination programme to adults aged 18 and over.
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