Yesterday evening (8 December) the UK Government announced the introduction of Plan B of their Autumn/Winter COVID-19 response in England following the emergence of the Omicron variant of the virus. The measures aim to slow the spread of the virus and allow more of the population to have their Booster vaccines, particularly amongst the older and vulnerable population.
To date, there have been 568 confirmed cases of Omicron but with the doubling time estimated to be 2-3 days, the case numbers are expected to rise rapidly.
The new restrictions include:
- Reintroduction of guidance to work from home where possible (From Monday 13 December)
- From Friday 10 December, mask wearing will become a legal requirement in public indoor venues, including theatres and cinemas.
- From next week, the NHS COVID pass (also called a Vaccine Passport) will be mandatory for entry into nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather, including unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, and seated outdoor venues with more than 5000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people. A COVID pass can currently be obtained after two doses. You can find out more about COVID passes here. A negative lateral flow test is also acceptable.
- Daily tests for contacts will be introduced instead of self-isolation.
The measures will be constantly reviewed against a number of criteria which are efficacy of the vaccine, severity of Omicron, how quickly the virus is spreading and the rate of hospitalisation.
These restrictions follow on from the previous temporary measures, announced on 29 November. You can find out more here.
Dr Sarah McNulty, Director of Public Health at Knowsley Council, said: “I urge residents to follow all national COVID-19 guidance to ensure that we protect ourselves, our loved ones, our local community and our local NHS services.
“Although we are yet to have a confirmed case of Omicron in Knowsley, we do know that the variant is in circulation both regionally and nationally. We are also seeing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Knowsley.
“We do not want to see a situation where our COVID-19 rates get out of control and so it is really important we all play our role in keeping the borough safe.
“Alongside following the latest measures and continuing with behaviours such as regularly washing your hands, keeping rooms ventilated, wearing a face covering, regularly testing for COVID-19 and considering your distance to others, I encourage eligible residents to get their COVID-19 vaccination to ensure they are protected.”
Knowsley residents can find out more information on vaccination in the borough here.