In total, the UK recorded 51,342 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours on Wednesday and a further 161 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the novel coronavirus
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday announced tougher measures such as work from home where possible, expanded face mask rules and use of COVID-19 vaccination certificates for entry to venues, as another 131 cases of the new Omicron variant were recorded, taking the total to 568.
The UK government’s Plan B winter strategy comes in force in stages starting this Friday, in an effort to slow the spread of the highly transmissible variant, which Johnson said shows a doubling time of two or three days.
Addressing a Downing Street media briefing, he said all signs indicate that Omicron transmits more rapidly than the previously dominant Delta variant of COVID-19.
From this Friday, we will further extend the legal requirement to wear face masks in public indoor venues, including theatres and cinemas. We will reintroduce guidance to work from home from Monday work from home if you can, go to work if you must but work from home if you can, said Johnson.
We’ll also make the NHS COVID pass mandatory for entry into nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather, including unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, and seated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people, he said, adding that this will come into effect from next week.
Johnson once again called on everyone to come forward for their COVID vaccinations, including all adults now eligible for a third top-up booster dose.
We must be humbled in the face of this virus. As soon as it becomes clear that the boosters are capable of holding this Omicron variant and we have boosted enough people to do that job of keeping Omicron in equilibrium, we will be able to move forward as before. Please everybody play your part and get boosted, he said.
The government had so far stopped short of enforcing Plan B and issued guidelines for compulsory face masks on transport and some indoor settings, such as shops.
We now have, in the Omicron variant, a variant that is spreading much faster than any that we have seen before. That is why I ask everybody to go to get their booster jab as soon as they are called to come forward, said Johnson, when asked about Plan B in Parliament on Wednesday.
In total, the UK recorded 51,342 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours on Wednesday and a further 161 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the novel coronavirus.
Since the first jab was delivered one year ago today, our phenomenal vaccine rollout has saved hundreds of thousands of lives and given us the best possible protection against COVID-19, said Johnson.
Our fight against the virus is not over yet, but vaccines remain our first and best line of defence against the virus so the best way to continue to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get behind the vaccine programme and get boosted as soon as you’re eligible, he said.