Omicron Covid variant: Latest guidance & new rules explained

Published Monday 29 November 2021 at 16:56

As a new Covid variant has been detected in parts of England and Scotland, the government is issuing new advice to control its spread, and some new restrictions are coming into force.

From 4am on Tuesday 30 November, face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other places such as banks and post offices, hairdressers and salons, and takeaways, as well as on public transport – unless individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings.

Also from 4am on Tuesday 30 November, travellers who arrive in England from any international destination must immediately self-isolate and take a PCR test on or before day 2, and continue self-isolating until they receive a negative test result. (The free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose, and PCR tests must be ordered privately.)

Additionally, all close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the Omicron variant must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.

These measures are temporary and will be reviewed in three weeks’ time.

Prof Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health, said:

Over the weekend, Directors of Public Health from across England have been closely monitoring developments around the new Omicron variant of Covid.

At this stage, we believe it to be more transmissible than previous Covid variants, which means it’s more likely to be passed on from one person to another.

However, we don’t yet know if this variant can make people more ill or put them at a higher risk of hospitalisation.

I would urge everyone to take the threat of this new variant seriously and follow the new measures to help control the spread of Covid infection with this new variant.

In Blackburn with Darwen, our secondary schools and colleges have already returned to mask-wearing in communal areas – we issued our own guidance almost two weeks ago amid concerns of extra pressures on our local NHS.

Now, it is vital that everyone carries a face covering with them whenever they go out. My advice would be to go further than the government’s new rules of wearing masks in shops, banks, etc and on public transport, and to wear a face covering whenever we mix indoors with people we don’t live with.

Coun Mohammed Khan CBE, Leader of the Council, added:

Blackburn with Darwen has faced challenges during the pandemic, more so than many other areas of the country.

As a community, we have pulled together before, and we can do it again. Let’s take all the precautions we can now to avoid having to face any tighter restrictions this winter, especially over Christmas and New Year when many of us are looking forward to precious time with family and friends.

There are five things we can all do to protect ourselves against Covid:

  • Wearing a face covering in shops and on public transport, and in other busy or crowded places
  • Washing our hands regularly and carrying hand sanitiser when we go out
  • Taking regular rapid tests, particularly before mixing with others
  • Getting fully vaccinated against Covid – including the booster dose
  • And keeping rooms well-ventilated, particularly when spending time indoors with people we don’t live with.

For more information visit the Coronavirus section of the Council website:

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