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Temporary COVID-19 measures – what it means for you

by Guy Murphy

On Saturday 27 November, the Prime Minister announced a range of temporary measures as a precaution to slow down the potential spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Knowsley Council will continue to monitor the current situation and update any guidance in line with Government announcements.

What this means for you:

Face coverings

From 4am Tuesday 30 November face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.

In schools, face coverings should also be worn in communal areas in all settings by staff, visitors and pupils or students in year 7 and above, unless they are exempt.

Pupils or students (in year 7 or above. 11+) should continue to wear face coverings on public and dedicated school transport, unless they are exempt.

Wearing a face covering protects you and those around you. A recent global study showed that mask-wearing is one of the most effective public health measures at tackling COVID,

Travellers

All travellers arriving into the country from 4am on Tuesday 30 November 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 can be purchased from private providers. Free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose. You can find a provider here.

Vaccination

If you’ve not had your COVID-19 vaccination, or, if eligible, your COVID-19 booster, you’re encouraged to get it as soon as possible.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) previously advised that those aged over 40 years and those at higher risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) should be offered a booster. This new JCVI advice means those aged 18 to 39 will also be eligible for a booster when the NHS calls them forward.

The booster will be offered in order of descending age groups, with priority given to the vaccination of older adults and those in a COVID-19 at-risk group. In response to the changing risk posed by the Omicron variant, the booster will now be given no sooner than 3 months after the primary course.

In addition, a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (30 microgram) for young people aged 12 to 15 years is advised no sooner than 12 weeks after the first dose.

The vaccination gives you the best possible protection against the virus. It reduces the risk of you getting seriously sick if you catch the virus. It also reduces the risk of you catching or passing it on.

You can find out more about vaccination here.

Contact tracing and isolation

The current guidance on contact tracing and isolation remains in place. In addition to these, any suspected or confirmed close contacts of the Omicron variant will be asked to isolate for 10 days regardless of vaccination status or age. You will be contacted directly and told to isolate.

Other steps you can take to protect yourself and others:

Testing

All Knowsley residents are encouraged to test twice weekly for COVID-19. Residents are also urged to take an additional test before attending higher risk settings (concerts, sporting events and other crowded places) or meeting up with vulnerable friends and family. You can find out more on testing here.

Keep following COVID safe behaviours

The advice reiterates many behaviours that have become embedded into our everyday lives. This includes:

  • Regularly washing your hands with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • Carry a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes (discard of the tissue immediately and then wash your hands)
  • Consider others – some people may still prefer to wear a face covering (or for you to wear one if you’re in close contact with someone) or for you to keep your distance, so please respect others wishes.