Watch Boris Johnson set out new measures after two cases of the Omicron variant were found in the UK
Face coverings will become mandatory again in shops and on public transport in England from next week under a raft of measures to target the new Covid variant, Omicron, the PM has said.
PCR tests for everyone entering the UK will introduce and all contacts of new variant cases will have to self-isolate, even if fully jabbe.
But Boris Johnson said Christmas would be “considerably better” than in 2020.
The measures were “temporary and precautionary”, he added.
Mr Johnson announce the restrictions at a Downing Street news conference after it was confirme that two Omicron cases had detect in Brentwood, Essex, and Nottingham. Officials say the cases were linked and connected to travel in southern Africa.
How are England’s Covid rules changing because of Omicron variant?
How are masks rules tight?
The UK’s red list is back… which countries are on it?
The new variant was first reported from South Africa on Wednesday, with early evidence suggesting it has a higher reinfection risk.
The prime minister said the new measures would be reviewed in three weeks, by which time they should have better information about the “continuing effectiveness” of vaccines.
Watch the BBC’s Iain Watson ask the prime minister whether people can keep their Christmas plans
Covid restrictions were tightened across the UK days before Christmas last year amid a surge in cases.
I’m pretty confident to absolutely confident this Christmas will be considerably better than last Christmas.”
Countries around the world are introducing travel bans and restrictions on southern African countries in an effort to contain the variant’s spread.
Under the plans Omicron variant:
Everyone entering the UK (other than those coming from the Common Travel Area that covers the Channel Islands and Ireland) will have to take PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative result
Do we need new vaccines yet?
How worrying is the new Omicron variant?
The reintroduction of masks in shops and public transport brings England back into line with the other UK nations.
“Retail staff working with the public every day are deeply worry about catching Covid-19 and the arrival of the Omicron variant is a further concern,” he say.
2px presentational grey line
Analysis box by Nick Eardley, political correspondent
This is a moment the government want to avoid.
We’ve get use to restrictions in England lift. But for the first time in months, they’re now re-impose in response to the new variant.
And these restrictions could have a significant impact.
anyone who goes on holiday will now need to pay for a PCR test and self-isolate until they get a negative result. If Omicron spreads quickly, there could a lot of people force to self-isolate for 10 days as close contacts.
But the government hasn’t gone for its full plan B. Masks won’t be mandatory in hospitality settings in England like they are in Scotland and Wales.
People aren’t tell to work from home – and there still aren’t plans for vaccine passports.
But it’s a sign of the uncertainty and concern in Whitehall that Boris Johnson felt he had to announce these measures.
2px presentational grey line
Both the UK cases of the Omicron variant and their households are self-isolating. Additional testing is carry out at locations where those people were likely to have been infectious.
Other countries are also introducing travel bans and restrictions on southern African countries in an effort to contain the variant’s spread.
The average number of daily confirmed Covid cases in the UK began rising again in early November. A further 39,567 confirm cases were announce on Saturday.
Infographic showing UK Covid case statistics on 27 November 2021
Banner Image Reading Around the BBC – Blue
IS THERE AN IDEAL POST-COVID DIET? How what you eat can help your recovery
CANADA’S MISSING CHILDREN: Who should held accountable?