From 4 a.m. on Tuesday, masks will be mandatory in many places across England after rules tighten due to fears about the Variante Omicron spread across the world.
Governments around the world acted quickly at the end of last week to restrict travel from South Africa, where the variant was first detected.
UK now has 11 confirmed cases of the variant – which was first detected in South Africa – after the Scottish government said on Monday it had discovered four cases in Lanarkshire and two in the greater Glasgow and Clyde area.
Two cases in London were also reported unreported on Monday, adding to the two cases identified on Saturday in Brentwood, Essex and Nottingham and a third case confirmed on Sunday.
The government restricted travel from southern Africa on Friday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new restrictions for England at a press conference on Saturday.
The new rules bring England closer to the rest of the UK but it is not ‘Plan B’ that would see the recommendation to work from home and the use of Covid passes.
The main changes were in the masks, so what’s going to change on Tuesday?
Where are face coverings mandatory?
On Saturday, Mr Johnson announced that face coverings would be mandatory on public transport and in stores from Tuesday morning.
The new rules will also apply to post offices and hairdressers.
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As before, the British will be fined £ 200 for the first time they break the new rules.The rules do not extend to pubs, restaurants or nightclubs – a decision that has been questioned by experts.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has said staff in pubs and restaurants should be required to wear face coverings when serving customers.Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the board of the BMA, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “What we believe is that there should be mask wearing in all enclosed and indoor environments.
“Now clearly this does not apply to people who eat out, but it should apply to staff, for example, in restaurants and bars, so that when you are close to a customer , when you are in a direct line with a client and you may be speaking loudly, you reduce the chances of infecting others.
“It’s not just about the public, it’s also about staff and employers, because if they have infected staff, sick staff and self-isolating, it will also affect the economy. “
Where are face coverings recommended?
Along with mandatory mask rules on public transport and in shops, the government has also issued strong recommendations to other sectors encouraging them to introduce mask rules.
The government is urging school staff and all students in grade 7 or above to wear a mask on site.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the recommendation goes up to university level.
As this is only a recommendation, you cannot be fined by the government for not wearing a mask in these settings.The guidelines on the Department of Education’s website said, “We recommend that students, staff and adult visitors wear face coverings when moving around the premises, such as in hallways and common areas. . “
The updated notice for universities adds: “We recommend that you consider whether to go ahead with the international educational visits planned at that time, recognizing the risk of educational disruption. resulting from the need for self-isolation and testing upon your return to the UK. “
What other rules have been introduced?
In addition to the new mask rules, the government has continued plans to extend booster vaccines to all people over 18.
The changes were made in response to advice given to the government by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization.Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chairman of Covid Vaccination at JCVI, said, “Having a booster dose of the vaccine will help increase our level of protection against the Omicron variant.
“This is an important way for us to reduce the impact of this variant on our lives, especially in the months to come. “
Group vice chairman Professor Anthony Harnden said experts were looking to extend boosters to those under 40 and whether the time interval between the second and third dose of the vaccine should be reduced.
In another tightening of the rules, anyone who comes in contact with someone who tests positive for the Omicron variant must self-isolate at home for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.
If you need to quarantine you will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.