Thursday 9 December 2021 8:50 AM UTC
LONDON Dec 9: The Prime Minister yesterday has confirmed that England will move to Plan B following the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the UK.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that the decision to impose restrictions to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant will likely avoid the need to impose much tougher controls in the new year.
Urgent work has been ongoing to understand the impact of the new variant with regards to vaccines, treatments and transmissibility. Early indications showed a large number of concerning spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome.
Everyone should test using a lateral flow device, particularly before entering a high-risk setting involving people you wouldn’t normally come into contact with, or when visiting a vulnerable person. Lateral flow devices remain free of charge and can be collected from local pharmacies.
From Friday 10 December, face coverings will become compulsory in most public indoor venues, such as cinemas, theatres and places of worship. There will be exemptions in venues where it is not practical to wear one, such as when you are eating, drinking or exercising. For that reason, face masks will not be required in hospitality settings.
From Monday 13 December, those who can will be advised to work from home.
From Wednesday 15 December, and subject to parliamentary approval, the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App will become mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather – including unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and any event with 10,000 or more attendees.
People will be able to demonstrate proof of two vaccine doses via the app. Having considered the evidence since the emergence of Omicron, proof of a negative lateral flow test will also be accepted.
Introducing Covid-status certification from next Wednesday will give businesses a week’s notice, as promised in the government’s proposals for introducing mandatory certification published in September.
A full list of guidance on these changes will be available on gov.uk in the coming days. Face covering regulations will be laid in parliament tomorrow, with the remaining regulations laid on Monday 13 December.
Parliament will debate the measures next week, with a vote expected to take place on Tuesday 14 December.
The government will keep the data under constant review. The regulations set to expire six weeks after implementation, with a review after three weeks.
Taken together, the government is hopeful these measures will reduce transmission and slow the spread of the Omicron variant, and will continue to urge those eligible to get their boosters when called.
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