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Face coverings to be made mandatory in Newark and Sherwood and across the country from Tuesday in response to new covid-19 variant

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Face coverings are to be made compulsory on public transport and in shops once again, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

The change comes after two cases of the new covid-19 variant Omicron were discovered in the UK yesterday (Saturday).

Other restrictions affecting travel have also been introduced by the government in an effort to protect the public from the new strain.

Face masks will be compulsory on public transport and in shops. (51592527)
Face masks will be compulsory on public transport and in shops. (51592527)

Facemasks will not be required in pubs and restaurants and the situation will be reviewed in three weeks time.

The two cases of Omicron were found in Nottingham and Chelmsford and are believed to been linked to travel to South Africa.

Boris Johnson (53306488)
Boris Johnson (53306488)

Now, anyone who enters the UK from abroad must complete a PCR test on day two of their return and self isolate until they receive their negative result.

Four more countries have also been added to the red travel list – Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said:“Thanks to our world class genomic sequencing we have been made aware of two UK cases of the Omicron variant. We have moved rapidly and the individuals are self-isolating while contact tracing is ongoing.

“We will do all we can to protect the UK public against this emerging threat and that is why we are surging testing capacity to the impacted communities and introducing travel restrictions on a further four countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola. We will not hesitate to take further action if required.

“This is a stark reminder that we are not yet out of this pandemic. Getting the vaccine has never been more important – please come forward for your first jab if you haven’t already and if eligible, book your booster as soon as possible.”

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said:“We will continue to work closely with the international community to quickly gather and analyse information on this variant to understand any possible increase in transmissibility or resistance to vaccines.

“It is important that everyone takes sensible precautions – get a PCR test if you have symptoms, isolate when asked, wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, ventilate rooms, get your vaccine and boosters as soon as you can.”

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of UKHSA, said:“We have identified these cases thanks to the UK’s advanced sequencing capabilities which means we are able to find variants and take rapid action to limit onward spread.

'We are particularly grateful to public health colleagues in South Africa for early sharing of information on the Omicron variant to support global health security.

“We are continuing our efforts to understand the effect of this variant on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.

“If you have any COVID-19 symptoms you must isolate and get a PCR test immediately."

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