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Covid Omicron variant: The new rules on coverings and travel in England

MILLIONS are waking up to new restrictions today as the Government tries to tackle the spread of the Covid variant, Omicron.

New restrictions across a number of areas including face coverings and travel came into force at 4am as part of an emergency set of rules.

It comes as the Health Secretary Sajid Javid last night said the Government was expecting to see a rise in Omicron cases in coming days.

Read more: The Covid rates for the North East on day new Omicron restrictions come in 

Meanwhile, latest figures for the North East and North Yorkshire showed eight out of 14 council areas had reported a rise in Covid cases in the past week.

The Northern Echo: The Covid rates for the North East are up Picture: PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLANDThe Covid rates for the North East are up Picture: PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND

But what are the new rules and restrictions now in place across the North East, North Yorkshire and the rest of England?

Mandatory use of face coverings 

From today, you must now wear a face covering or mask in shops including the likes of banks, Post Offices and hairdressers, unless you are exempt.

You must also wear a face covering when using public transport in England, including on the Metro, on buses, trains, planes and taxis.

Read more: Arriva explain the rules on face coverings on County Durham and Darlington buses

The Government guidance states that you do not need to wear a face covering in hospitality settings which included pubs, cafes or restaurants. 

School children should also wear face coverings

The guidance states that students should wear a face covering in all communal areas in educational settings and on public or school transport, if they are in Year 7 and above. 

It states that this guidance should also be followed by staff and visitors when using comunal areas in such educational settings.

But as with the rules on face coverings, those who exempt do not need to wear one while visiting an educational setting.

New rules on self-isolation 

From today, you must self-isolate if you come into contact with a suspected Covid Omicron variant case, regardless of your vaccination status.

Previously, those who had come into close contact with any Covid case did not have to self-isolate, unless showing symptoms, if they were double vaccinated. 

New restrictions when arriving into England

Affecting new arrivals and holidaymakers, new rules on those coming into England have also come into force today.

Now, anyone travelling into the country must take a PCR test on or before the end of day two after arriving and must self-isolate until they have received a negative result.

The guidance continues to stipulate that PCR tests must be purchased from private providers as free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose.

To see a list of PCR test providers on the Gov website click here. 

When will restrictions be reviewed

The Government has already confirmed that these measures are "temporary and precautionary" as part of their response to the Omicron variant.

However, the measures are set to last for a minimum of three weeks which is when a review of such restrictions will take place.

What the Government has said 

A Government spokesperson said: "The vaccination programme and test, trace and isolate system continue to be the most effective way of reducing transmission, along with practicing good hygiene, keeping spaces well ventilated, and wearing a face covering in enclosed or crowded spaces.

"The UKHSA continues to monitor the situation closely, in partnership with scientific and public health organisations across the world.

"The UK government thanks the government of South Africa for its surveillance of this variant and its transparency."
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