New Restrictions From The Government To Fight Omicron
Despite reimposing a series of restrictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed “absolute confidence” for the highly transmissible Omicron variant. He said that the public would experience a better Christmas this year than the last.
The Prime Minister strived to quell the fears about the possibilities of another impending lockdown, hours following the first two cases of the new variant were reported in the UK, in Nottingham and Essex.
He also added that people in England would need to wear face masks on public transport and in shops. Downing Street further confirmed that it would be compulsory to wear masks in shops and public transport starting next week. However, all hospitality establishments will be exempted.
People travelling into England would be asked to take a PCR test by the end of the second day of landing and self-isolate until they had ensured a negative result.
Johnson stated that the government would not prevent people from travelling to or returning from abroad. He acknowledged that the travel constraints “sound tough” but insisted that the complete package was “targeted and appropriate”, adding “that’s the way it’s got to be”.
He was asked if the government could have closed the borders sooner to protect the public from the new variant. He declared that the government took action as soon as the news had filtered through from southern Africa, which is why they have included several southern African countries on the red list. Also, four other countries – Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia were included into a UK list facing flight bans that now comprises 10 nations.
When questioned if people would have to adjust their Christmas plans, Johnson stated that there was still much unknown about the new variant. However, he was confident that the UK was in a far stronger position than last year due to the successful vaccine and booster programmes.
The Prime Minister added that the government would speed up the virus booster programme throughout the next few weeks. The primary message to everyone was to get vaccinated as soon as possible and then take the booster when eligible.
Sajid Javid, the health secretary, stated that Omicron was “a real reminder that this pandemic is far from over”. Javid also added that anyone who had travelled in the past 10 days to the following red-listed 10 countries must self-isolate and take PCR tests. The newly added red-listed countries are Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.