BORIS Johnson has triggered Plan B Covid restrictions to battle the lightning spread of the Omicron variant across Britain.
The PM announced at a press conference last Wednesday that new measures are needed to help fight off the virus super strain.
He had hoped to hold off on introducing any more curbs on people’s daily lives until January to give Brits a normal Christmas.
But the spread of Omicron, which scientists fear is three times as infectious as the current Delta strain, has forced him to act.
More rules on face masks came into force from Friday, while working from home guidance returns from tomorrow.
New testing orders from Tuesday will come into place for Brits who come into contact with someone who has Covid.
It comes after the government announced the scrapping of the 10-day self-isolation rules for vaccinated people who come into contact with anyone who has Omicron.
Here’s what you can and can’t do under the new rules.
Since Friday, the rules on where people have to wear masks have been extended to cover most public venues including theatres and cinemas.
Brits had already been told to wear face coverings on public transport and in many public places.
The rules now cover shops, post offices and banks, beauty salons and hairdressers, and taxi rides.
The PM confirmed they won’t be extended to pubs and restaurants, gyms, or places where people sing like choir practices.
But a move to Plan C could see face coverings extend to indoor places currently exempt in Plan B, incuding gyms and pubs.
The Government says: “Face coverings have low economic costs and can be effective in reducing transmission in public and community settings.”
Working from home
Brits will be told to start working from home again from tomorrow to help stop the spread of Omicron.
The measure will only take the form of advice, meaning workers won’t be forced to stay away from the office.
Boris said: “Go to work if you must, but work from home if you can. By reducing your contacts in the workplace you will help slow transmission.”
The Government says that “high levels of home working have played a very important role in preventing sustained epidemic growth”.
But ministers also acknowledge that working from home creates problems for some firms and has a knock-on effect on local economies.
Large venues will be required to introduce vaccine passports as a condition of entry under the new measures.
People must show proof they’ve been vaccinated or provide a negative lateral flow test from Wednesday.
The restrictions will cover indoor events of more than 500 people, including venues like nightclubs.
They’ll also apply to “crowded” outdoor events with more than 4,000 people and any event with more than 10,000, including sports stadiums.
The Government says: “Mandating vaccine-only certification would be preferable to closing venues entirely or reimposing social distancing.”
Self-isolating for Omicron contacts
The government has axed the 10-day isolation period for anyone exposed to someone with Omicon and brought in a new seven-day testing regime.
Boris Johnson introduced tougher rules last month on Omicron contacts, including the double jabbed, ordering them to self-isolate for 10 days.
But Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced the measure will be axed from Tuesday, with vaccinated Brits ordered to take a lateral flow test for seven days instead if they have contact with any Covid variant, including Omicron.
Unvaccinated adults must still self-isolate for 10 days if they have contact with anyone who tests positive for any Covid variant.
Omicron is expected to become the dominant Covid variant in the UK by mid-December amid warnings from the government of a million cases a day by the end of the month.
There were fears among ministers and businesses that the fast-spreading Omicron variant would lead to a new “pingdemic”.
Testing for Covid contacts
Vaccinated Brits in contact with someone with any Covid variant should take seven daily lateral flow tests under new government measures.
The new guidance, which kicks in from Tuesday, applies to double jabbed people as well.
A Department of Health spokesman said the new move was “practical” amid a “significant” spike in Omicron infections.
People will be informed by NHS Test and Trace or pinged on the the NHS Covid app if they have contact with anyone who tested positive.
They will be advised to get a box of seven free lateral flow tests to see if check over a week if they have the virus.
Anyone who tests positive or who gets Covid symptoms should self-isolate and take a PCR test to verify the result.
If the result is positive they must self-isolate for 10 days from the day they took the positive rapid test or developed symptoms
People are still allowed to hold Christmas parties with Brits encouraged to hit pubs and restaurants this festive season.
Ministers are advising revellers to take a Lateral Flow Test before heading out to ensure they don’t have Covid.
But there are no restrictions on the number of partygoers or where such events can be held.
Pubs and restaurants
Brits will still be able to enjoy a Christmas tipple or meal at their favourite pub or restaurant.
The PM isn’t announcing any new restrictions on the hospitality industry, which has taken a hammering from Covid.
There will be no limit on capacity at venues and social distancing rules aren’t being reintroduced.
Plan C is now reportedly already being drawn up by Government chiefs in a bid to slow down the spread of Omicron.
It would see the reintroduction of table service at pubs and restaurants and vaccine passports in smaller venues.
Boris didn’t announce any new travel restrictions last Wednesday, after the rules were tightened up over recent weeks.
Brits are still free to travel abroad for a festive break, but will have to take a pre-departure test before returning to the UK.
Arrivals also have to take a PCR swab before or on Day 2 in the country and quarantine until they get their result back.