COVID-19: What are the coronavirus restrictions now – and when do the new rules take effect?

COVID-19: What are the coronavirus restrictions now – and when do the new rules take effect?

Following the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the UK government has reintroduced some COVID measures.

With research still ongoing on the contagiousness of the variant – and how it interacts with vaccines – there is no clear understanding of the way forward.

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“It’s going to be a great Christmas”

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he hoped to be able to remove the new measures in a few weeks.

Here we explain what the changes are.


Health is a devolved issue, which is why England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own guidelines.

From Tuesday, councils in England will tell people to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport, unless you are exempt.

Other measures, which will come into effect as soon as possible, include anyone identified as someone’s contact with the Omicron variant that must self-isolate for 10 days – regardless of vaccination status.

However, the health secretary said there were no plans to advise people to work from home yet.

Anyone arriving from abroad will need to take a PCR test on day 2 and self-isolate until they test negative.

Only British and Irish citizens will be allowed to enter the UK from countries newly added to the Southern African Red List.

They must present a negative test carried out within three days of departure.

They will then have to spend 10 days in a government-approved quarantine hotel, at a cost of over £ 2,000, after landing.

Red List Countries

  • Botswana
  • Eswatini
  • Lesotho
  • Namibia
  • South Africa
  • Zimbabwe
  • Angola
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Zambia


Wales appears to remain on its zero alert level.

This involves asking people to wear masks and advising them to work from home.

People are also advised to self-isolate and book a PCR test if they have symptoms, and perform regular lateral flow tests if they do not.

Keeping windows open, meeting outdoors, socializing and washing hands are also encouraged.


Hamza Yousef, the Scottish Health Secretary, said Scotland must “redouble its efforts” to follow the existing rules.

He added that all close contacts of suspected Omicron cases will be advised to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

This includes wearing face coverings on public transport and in all indoor food and retail environments.

Working from home whenever possible and regular lateral flow tests are also advised.

North Ireland

The Stormont administration advises anyone with symptoms of COVID to get tested and self-isolate for 10 days.

Anyone who has been vaccinated and identified as a contact with a positive case should have a PCR test, and anyone who has not been vaccinated should self-isolate in this situation.

The decentralized administrations of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have followed England in reinstating their travel red lists with countries in southern Africa.

In the meantime, it looks like they’ll continue with their previous tips for dealing with the coronavirus on a national level.

Mr Javid added that new advice on vaccinations should be received soon, and a decision will then be made on increasing the rollout of the booster vaccine.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Professor Anthony Harnden, vice-chairman of the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization (JCVI), said there was “a very good and strong case for increasing the level of antibodies in the whole community ”.

He added: “So speeding up the booster program, both by extending the age range and reducing the interval between the second dose and the booster dose, will be an acceptable strategy. “

When asked if people aged 18 and over would be asked to get the booster sooner, he added: “These adults 18 and older will have a booster offer sooner than we had considered. previously. “

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