The Government has announced that, as a result of the increasing prevalence of the Omicron variant, certain COVID restrictions are to be reintroduced in England. It follows hot on the heels of the announcement a week ago that masks were again to be compulsory in retail premises.
Under the new restrictions:
- from Friday 10 December face masks will be required in most indoor venues, including cinemas and theatres, unless an exemption applies
- from Monday 13 December, the 'work from home if you can' guidance will be reinstated
- from Wednesday 15 December, a COVID-status certificate (via the NHS app) will be mandatory for all unseated indoor venues with a capacity of 500 or more; all unseated outdoor venues of 4,000 or more; or any venue, seated or not, which contain 10,000 or more. Sports and concert arenas, as well as nightclubs, will be affected.
- Anyone who has been identified as a close contact of a person who has been confirmed to have the Omicron variant will be required to take daily lateral flow tests.
The Prime Minister also indicated that the Government is looking actively at mandatory vaccination (already imposed for care home and NHS workers), which is also being considered in some European states.
Employers will need to update their COVID health and safety procedures and promptly communicate the new requirements to staff.