Omicron: Boris Johnson introduces tighter Covid rules as new variant is detected in the UK

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Boris Johnson has said face coverings will be mandatory again in shops and on public transport in England from next week as two cases of the new Omicron variant were detected in the UK.

The Prime Minister called an emergency press conference on Saturday night to address reports that the Covid-19 variant, being labelled the "South African variant," had made it to the UK.

Health professionals described it as a "variant of concern" and said, "This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs.”

The Health Secretary is said to give more updates in the coming days but Boris confirmed some initial rule changes include masks and travel restrictions.

Boris Johnson unveils stricter Tier 4 restrictions

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As of next week masks will be mandatory again in shops and on public transport and anyone entering the UK will have to take a PCR test on arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

All contacts of those who test positive must self-isolate for 10 days regardless of vaccination status, ten countries have been put on the red list and people will be encouraged to get a Covid-19 booster jab.

As for education - there's no current sign that schools will close again (opens in new tab) due to the current covid climate. However, this and other measures will be reviewed every three weeks.

Boris said, "Our scientists are learning more hour by hour, and it does appear that Omicron spreads very rapidly and can be spread between people who are double vaccinated."

He added, "We need to slow down the spread of this variant here in the UK, because measures at the border can only ever minimise and delay the arrival of a new variant rather than stop it all together."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_lm9PYvhIE

Naturally people are concerned that Christmas parties could be cancelled (opens in new tab) again, as this time last year restrictions were re-imposed which meant loved ones couldn't spend the festive period together.

But Boris has promised this year's Christmas will be different. "We continue to be in a strong position largely thanks to the speed of the vaccine rollout, another booster rollout and I think I’m going to stick with the formula I’ve used before, which is I’m pretty confident to absolutely confident this Christmas will be considerably better than last Christmas," he explained.

Georgia Farquharson

Georgia is a Celebrity and Royal Writer working across GoodTo and Woman & Home, and the Director and Founder of communications company Farq Media. Prior to this she was Online Editor at New! Magazine – managing all of their digital content and social media accounts. Where she interviewed all of the hottest reality TV stars and spent far too much time commuting to London. She trained at Nottingham Trent University – where she achieved First Class Honours in Print Journalism whilst juggling copious amounts of work experience, freelance writing, blogging and having far too much fun with the dance society.