The UK Government have announced that, following the emergence and spread of the new ‘Omicron’ variant of COVID-19, face coverings have been made mandatory on public transport and in retail environments in England.
At the time of writing, 14 cases of the new variant have been detected in the UK so far. As a result, face coverings have been made mandatory in all ‘public facing areas’. This includes shops, takeaways, hairdressers and on public transport. However, thus far, face coverings have not been made mandatory in hospitality settings such as cinemas, pubs and restaurants.
Other measures that have been put into place since the press conference on Saturday 27th November include compulsory isolation pending the results of a day 2 PCR test for all arrivals into the UK, and compulsory isolation for 10 days for all close contacts of those testing positive with the Omicron variant. Boris Johnson is expected to expand upon existing COVID-19 measures in a press conference tonight (30th November).
The University of Southampton had previously announced at the end of October that they were moving from ‘strongly encouraging and expecting’ face coverings to be worn, to ‘an explicit requirement that face coverings must be worn by all students in all taught and practical sessions, and by all staff and students when moving around inside our campus buildings and halls of residence, unless a medical exemption applies.’ You can find more information on the university’s COVID measures here.