Face mask rules: When and where you have to wear masks - in full

Last night Boris Johnson held a Downing Street press conference where he revealed a number of national Covid restrictions in an attempt to stave off the threat posed by the new Omicron variant. Among the restrictions, the PM announced were that there will now be compulsory self-isolation periods for anyone who is found to be a close contact of a suspected Omicron case, regardless of an individual’s vaccination status.

Strict testing measures will also be imposed on anyone who arrives in the UK bar some exceptions.

However, the measure that will arguably affect most people’s day to day lives the most was the reimplementation of the rule which forces people to wear masks within some public spaces.

From next week it will be mandatory for people in England to wear face masks in retail settings and on public transport.

The Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has revealed that this particular rule will come into force, in England, from Tuesday.

Face mask rules: When and where you have to wear masks - in full
© PA People walking down the high street with masks
Face mask rules: When and where you have to wear masks - in full
© GETTY A woman wearing a mask whilst shopping

However, the rule does not apply to restaurants or pubs.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland it is already compulsory for people to wear masks whilst on public transport and in many indoor areas.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today, Mr Javid said the measures introduced by the Government would help to ensure that people can “enjoy Christmas with our families”.

He added that the Government had acted “swiftly” and “in a proportionate manner”.

Face mask rules: When and where you have to wear masks - in full
© GETTY Sajid Javid talking to the media

Mr Johnson has stopped short of fully rolling out his ‘Plan B’ which includes issuing advice to people to work from home and extending vaccine passports in England.

He also revealed that the restrictions will be reviewed after three weeks.

The latest measures have been introduced in an attempt by the Government to meet the challenge of the new Covid variant, Omicron.

Last Wednesday, South Africa became the first country to report a confirmed case of the Omicron variant to the World Health Organisation (WHO).


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Face mask rules: When and where you have to wear masks - in full
© GETTY Commuters wearing masks on the London tube

Since then a number of countries around the world have identified cases of the new strain which health officials are concerned could carry a greater risk of reinfection.

Yesterday, the UK announced it had identified its first two concrete cases of the strain, which are both linked with travel to southern Africa.

New restrictions in full

Every individual who enters the UK – other than those arriving from the Common Travel Area that includes the Channel Islands and Ireland – will have to take a PCR test by the end of the second day following their arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

All contacts of suspected Omicron cases will have to self-isolate regardless of their vaccination status.

Face coverings will become compulsory to wear in shops and public transport. However, bars and restaurants will be exempt.

The PM has also asked Mr Javid to explore, with his advisers, the possibility of rapidly extending the rollout of booster jabs.

This includes reducing the gap between the second dose of the vaccine and booster.

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