Busy London street with shoppers wearing face masks

Government to take action in response to Omicron Covid-19 variant

The UK Government is to reintroduce mandatory face coverings in shops and on public transport, as well as measures for travellers returning to the UK, as part of proactive action against the newly-identified Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Temporary and precautionary measures will be introduced across the country, the UK Government confirmed.

Mandatory face coverings will come into effect in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, alongside on public transport unless individuals are exempt.

Arrivals into the UK after 4am on Tuesday November 30, 2021, will be required to take a PCR test on or before Day 2 and self-isolate until they have received a negative test result. These PCR tests are available to be purchased from private providers.

Free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose, the UK Government has said.

Under previous rules, arrivals from most destinations into the UK were only required to carry out a lateral flow test.

Due to the structure of the new Covid-19 variant, PCR tests are expected to be able to detect and help track instances of the variant, helping support both central and local government public health teams to respond.

In order to prevent the further spread of the new Omicron variant of concern, all close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the newly-identified variant will also be required to isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

Health ministers from the G7, which is currently under UK presidency, are also to convene on November 29, 2021, to discuss the developments with the variant and further measures, if required, to stem the rate of transmission of the virus variant.

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