With concerns over the new mutant strain of the coronavirus, the Omicron variant, new mandatory mask-wearing restrictions have been put back in place in England for certain outlets by health secretary Sajid Javid- here’s where they’re mandatory
With fears over a new variant of the coronavirus several safety restrictions have been put back in place by the government in England.
Refusing to wear a face mask in areas where they have been outlined as mandatory could land people with a £200 fine.
It is not yet known if the new variant is more harmful and some doctors believe the symptoms to be milder to the ones caused by the Delta variant, but it is possible that it is more transmissible and more resistant to vaccines and nothing has been confirmed yet.
Whether further restrictions will be put in place remains to be seen, but there seem to be no plans for a lockdown currently.
The current restrictions are only minor, but what are they?
Where do I have to wear a mask?
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People must wear shops on public transport or in shops unless they are medically exempt from doing so, but more places have also been announced by Health Secretary Sajid Javid. Children under 11 do not have to wear a mask.
A full list of the places you have to wear a face mask was released on Monday, November 29, 2021, and includes:
- Public transport (including taxis)
- Enclosed shopping centres
- Banks and building societies
- Inside cars during driving tests or lessons
- Post offices
- Hair and beauty salons
Those who do not cover their faces with a mask could end up with a £200 fine.
This is doubled for each offence and could land people with an eventual fine of £6,400, which is the maximum.
The hospitality sector is exempt from the changes, so these rules won’t apply in restaurants, cafes, bars or pubs.
The UK, Italy and Germany have all now confirmed the presence of Omicron in their respective countries.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) cannot yet confirm if the virus is more easily transmitted or if it is more resistant to vaccines. Currently, this is only suspected but is likely the reason behind the restrictions being reintroduced.
In response, the government is also expected to announce the expansion of the booster jab scheme to make all adults eligible for it.
Where do you not need to wear a face mask?
While there have been several additions to places where it is now legally mandatory to wear a face mask, including in enclosed shopping centres and inside banks, hospitality venues do no require face coverings.
Below is the full list of places where you do not need to wear a face mask:
- Cafes and canteens
- Shisha bars
- Any other premises “wholly or mainly” used to eat or drink
- Premises offering medical and dental services
- Photography studios
When do restrictions come back?
Restrictions introduced by the government take effect from 4am on Tuesday, November 30.
The government brought England into line with the rest of the UK by reintroducing the restrictions.
There are currently no plans for further restrictions and the new rules are subject to review in three weeks. Sajid Javid said that, at present, people can expect to have a normal Christmas.
He told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips: “I think people should continue with their plans as normal for Christmas, I think it’s going to be a great Christmas.”
Passengers arriving back in the UK from abroad must take a PCR test after their arrival, if they touch down in the UK after the restrictions take effect on November 30.
All those suspected to have the new Omicron variant will also be required to isolate for 10 days.