UK enforces tougher anti-Omicron Covid travel tests

The UK has enforced targeted measures to prevent the spread of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant.

The measures have come into effect from November 30. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised the booster programme was extended to all 18-39 year-olds, and the gap between the second dose and booster was reduced to three months. All those aged 12 to 15 years have been advised to receive a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine no sooner than 12 weeks after the first dose. Severely immunosuppressed individuals who have received three primary doses should now also be offered a booster dose.

Under the new measures, face coverings are once again compulsory in shops and settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, and public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so. All hospitality settings are exempt.

All international arrivals must take a PCR test by the second day after arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. The PCR tests are available online from private providers.

All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status. NHS Test and Trace will contact them.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, "the measures taking effect today are proportionate and responsible and will buy us time in the face of this new variant. Based on everything we know, our vaccines and boosters remain our best line of defence, so it is more important than ever that people come forward when eligible to get boosted. Not only will today's steps help us slow down the variant's spread, but they will help us protect each other and the gains we have all worked so hard for."

The measures are temporary and precautionary, and will be reviewed in three weeks.

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