The Prime Minister announced during a press conference this evening that a series of Plan B measures would be introduced in England to combat the new Omicron variant.
It has become clear that Omicron is growing much faster than the previous delta variant and is spreading rapidly all around the world. There is evidence that the doubling time of Omicron in the UK could currently be between 2 and 3 days.
As it is not yet clear whether Omicron is less severe than previous variants, the Government believes the proportionate and responsible action is to move to Plan B in England, with the aim of slowing the spread of Omicron and allowing the scientists time to understand more about the variant.
The measures the PM announced are as follows:
- Working From Home: Reintroduce the guidance to work from home, with employers using the rest of this week to discuss working from home arrangements with employees and from Monday 13 December to work from home where you can. Go to work if you must, but work from home if you can.
- Face masks: From Friday 10th Dec legal requirement to wear a face mask will be extended to most public indoor venues, including theatres and cinemas. Exceptions where this is not practical such as when eating, drinking, exercising or singing.
- Mandated NHS Covid Pass: NHS Covid pass will be made mandatory for entry into nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather including unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people. The NHS Covid pass or a negative lateral flow test will be required. This will come into force in a week’s time.
- Testing: Introduce daily tests for contacts rather than isolation
The PM reiterated that the most significant thing the public can do is to get their booster vaccination.
He believes that as we learn more about Omicron, particularly regarding the efficacy of vaccines, the severity of Omicron, the speed of its spread and the rate of hospitalisation it creates, this information would guide the government’s response.
“As soon as it becomes clear that the boosters are capable of holding this omicron variant and we have boosted enough people to do that job of keeping Omicron in equilibrium we will be able to move forward as before”.
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