politics

New Covid isolation restrictions to last until March as Omicron variant spreads


Masks will be compulsory in shops and on public transport, PCR tests must be taken by international arrivals and all close contacts of an omicron case must self-isolate, regardless of vaccine status

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Boris Johnson: “Guidance remains the same” on Christmas

New Covid self-isolation requirements could last for the next four months, it has been reported.

Under new rules that came into force today, everyone who comes in contact with someone infected by the omicron variant must self-isolate for ten days.

If they don’t, they face a £10,000 fine – even if they’re fully vaccinated.

The new rules will not expire until March 24, under legislation passed yesterday, the Telegraph reports.

It is not guaranteed that the system will remain in place until then however.







Everyone who comes in contact with someone infected by the omicron variant must self-isolate (stock photo)
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Image:

Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Covid rules are due to be reassessed by the Government in three weeks time – just before Christmas.

If the threat from omicron, which some fear may people able to evade the vaccine, is considered to be lessened, then the rules may be eased.

In Parliament today 33 Tories voted against the new rules, including the former Cabinet
ministers Greg Clark, Jeremy Wright and Esther McVey, as well as Mark Harper, the former chief whip.

Sir Christopher Chope, a Conservative MP who made headlines last month by forcing a debate on whether Owen Paterson should be suspended, criticised the isolation plan.

He said the regulations were “part of a scaremongering propaganda campaign that is really designed to restrict or stop interaction between social animals ”.

Other MPs told the Telegraph that they were concerned the rules would lead to a “pandemic” and people cancelling Christmas parties to avoid going into isolation.

At his press conference today the PM told Brits not to cancel Christmas plans – and stressed there is no immediate lockdown threat.







Masks must now be worn on public transport
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PA)

Boris Johnson said he wanted to take a “balanced and proportionate” approach to omicron, which has now seen confirmed UK cases rise to 22.

There are 13 in England, with nine in London.

His intervention came after the head of the UK’s Health Security Agency, Dr Jenny Harries, urged people not to socialise if they do not need to in the run-up to Christmas.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said uncertainty caused by such remarks was “extremely frustrating”.

He said: “At the very moment operating costs are at their highest, we are now faced with another poorly conceived communications strategy from Government which has and will severely impact businesses.

“Christmas bookings and advance ticket sales have already been hit following the announcement of the new Omicron variant.

“The Government needs to recognise that, while restrictions are not in place for the hospitality and night-time economy sectors, we are reliving the moments of March 2020 where the Prime Minister asked people not to go to pubs, bars, clubs and theatres.

“It is surreal and extremely frustrating to see healthcare advisers publicly telling people not to socialise, giving unnecessary uncertainty to our customers and workforce.”

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