Face masks reinstated over fears of Omicron variant

After rules on mandatory mask wearing were lifted in the summer, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday within the briefing that they will be reinstated once again in indoor places and whilst travelling. This comes with the news of the new variant “Omicron” first identified in South Africa and two cases within the UK

In the Downing Street briefing, Boris Johnson confirmed the obligatory use of face masks for travel and indoor spaces however, stated that it will not be required for hospitality venues such as restaurants.

The Evening Standard reports: “The Government needed to take “targeted and proportionate measures” to curb the spread of the variant which scientists believe could be more transmissible and vaccine resistant. He stressed the new measures would be “temporary and precautionary” and would be reviewed in three weeks.”

The Omicron variant, that senior scientists deem is the worst strain they have sense far during the pandemic, sparked fears last week when first identified within the UK. Fast action was taken by the government whereby South Africa and other neighbouring countries were placed on to the red list to block the spread of the variant.

Mr Johnson said: “We need to slow down the spread of this variant in our country and buy time for our scientists to find out what we’re dealing with.

“We don’t yet exactly know how effective our vaccines will be against Omicron but we have good reasons for believing they will provide at least some measure of protection.”

Moreover, those who do test positive with the suspected Omicron variant, will need to self isolate for ten days despite your vaccination status. PCR tests are now mandatory too for those arriving to the UK. It must be taken on the next day of your arrival and travellers must self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

Words: Uzma Khan Sub-editor: Katie Bird

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