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UK to enforce new COVID rules starting Tuesday

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The UK government on Sunday defended itself against criticism that the pace and scale of its response to a new omicron strain of COVID-19 was again falling behind the curve.

Health Minister Sajid Javid said on Tuesday that mandatory mask wearing in UK shops and public transport would resume, telling families to plan for Christmas “as usual” despite new rules to combat the Omicron strain.

Also starting Tuesday, all passengers arriving in the UK will be tested for PCR for COVID-19 and will be instructed to self-isolate until they test negative.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the tougher measures at a hastily prepared press conference on Saturday, but did not say when they would come into force.

Johnson and other senior conservatives were widely criticized for his travel and quarantine policies in the early days of the pandemic, who opened up borders to foreign travelers even as infection rates soared, making the UK one of the world’s worst per capita deaths from COVID-19. made.

The government controversially lifted the mask obligation to England in July after the pre-closure, but delegated administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland kept it.

All four UK countries are expected to adopt the same PCR rules. The UK forked again in July by requiring only simple lateral flow tests for passengers aboard flights, ships and trains.

Travel to 10 countries in South Africa is currently banned due to Omicron, but Javid admitted that hundreds of passengers arrived on the plane from South Africa on Friday without being screened.

But he told BBC Television:

Defensive ‘hole’

Javid ruled out re-introduction of social distancing rules and telecommuting guidelines, which, despite advice from government scientists, were scrapped by controversy in the UK earlier this year.

It’s too early to judge the effectiveness of an existing vaccine against Omicron, Javid said, as drug manufacturers are rushing to study new treatments for new strains.

However, the government is seeking approval from the Joint Commission on Vaccines and Immunizations (JCVI) to extend the launch of Booster Zab, shorten the period between the second and third injections, and extend the age range to 18+ .

JCVI is expected to respond early next week, Javid said.

He added that no further cases of Omicron were detected in the UK on Saturday after the government confirmed the first two cases involving travel from southern Africa.

The opposition Labor Party said the government was doing too little after Omicron came into existence.

Labor spokeswoman Lisa Nandy said after Tuesday that passengers could still enter the UK without pre-departure screening and travel freely from the port of entry using public transport.

“We desperately want them to tighten travel restrictions,” she told Sky News.

“If the government has been warned that these defenses have holes in them for 18 months, but still hasn’t done anything to block them, there’s a real problem.”

UK confirms first two new COVID variants

2021 AFP

Citation: UK, new COVID rules in effect from Tuesday 28 November 2021

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