Plymouth residents are being urged to be extra vigilant as new measures are introduced to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK.
The speed in which the Omicron variant is appearing across the UK has prompted the Government to announce additional ‘Plan B’ precautions nationally.
These include reintroducing the guidance to work from home where possible, mandatory wearing of face coverings in more public venues including cinemas and theatres and making an NHS Pass mandatory for entrance to nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather.
It comes as COVID-19 rates in Plymouth reach 805 cases per 100,000 people, well above the England average of 496 cases.
Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health for Plymouth, said the speed in which the new variant spreads was a concern given the already high COVID-19 rates in the city.
She said: “With COVID-19 rates in Plymouth currently the highest they’ve been since the previous peak in July, we need to assume – and act as if – the variant is already within our communities.
“There is absolutely no room for complacency, especially during the busy period in the lead up to the Christmas break when more people are shopping and socialising.
“I would urge everyone to closely follow all the measures that are being put in place nationally and to think really carefully about how they can minimise the risks to themselves and to others. This means wearing face coverings – not just when we have to but when it makes sense to in busy indoor spaces, as well as taking regular lateral flow tests, and ensuring there is plenty of ventilation if socialising indoors.
“It remains really important that people get vaccinated, to protect against serious disease.”
Dr Harrell said the best way for people to protect themselves against the new variant was to be extra stringent in following all the COVID-19 guidance:
- Get the coronavirus vaccine and booster as soon as you are eligible to do so
- Take regular lateral flow tests, including whenever you are meeting up with people, or are in high risk places such as busy indoor spaces
- Self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test if you have any COVID-19 symptoms
- When meeting others, try to do so outside. If meeting indoors, make sure there is plenty of ventilation.
- Wear face coverings on public transport, in shops and other settings in line with the Government instructions, but also in places where it’s not currently a requirement, especially when indoors or in a confined space
- Wash your hands regularly and properly as it is an effective way of reducing the spread of viruses
- Work from home where possible
The new ‘Plan B’ measures will come into effect on these dates:
From 10 December: mandatory face covering rules are extended to most indoor settings (but will not include hospitality settings).
From 13 December: the guidance is for people to work from home if they can. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to travel to their workplace.
From 15 December: introduction of mandatory certification for certain settings. This will mean a requirement to show vaccination status or a recent negative test to enter certain high risk settings.