Boris Johnson has announced the return of some restrictions as the Omicron variant continues to spread throughout the UK.
The PM announced the reintroduction of measures at a press conference today, December 8, in which he explained the Omicron variant of coronavirus is growing much faster than the Delta variant and is spreading rapidly around the world.
Johnson explained that the doubling time of Omicron in the UK could be between two and three days, though noted there is still a lot we do not know about the variant.
With that in mind, the prime minister said the ‘proportionate response’ of the rise in cases is to move to the government’s ‘plan B’, both to slow the spread of the virus and ‘buy ourselves the time to get yet more boosters into arms’, as well as to understand the answers to the outstanding questions about Omicron.
Over the next few days, measures that will come into place include the reintroduction of the guidance to work from home, with employees urged to go to work if ‘you must’, but work from home if ‘you can’ for a ‘limited period’ from Monday, December 13.
As of Friday, December 10, face masks will be required in most public indoor venues including theatres and cinemas, adding to previous requirements that masks be worn in shops and on public transport.
The new measures will also require NHS COVID passes to be mandatory for entry into nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather. In order to give businesses time to prepare for such requirements, these measures will come in next week, Johnson said.
The reintroduction of measures comes after it was revealed today that another 131 cases of Omicron had been recorded across the UK, taking the total to 568.
In his address, Johnson explained that daily tests will be introduced instead of isolation to ‘minimise the disruption to daily life’, and stressed ‘the single biggest thing that everyone of us can do is to get our jabs and crucially to get that booster as soon as our turn arrives’.
Almost 21 million coronavirus vaccine boosters have already been given in the UK, but Johnson said we ‘need to go further and faster still’ because scientists believe immune response to the virus will be stronger with a booster.