If employers force workers to come in unnecessarily they could be fined, the Health Secretary said today.
Matt Hancock addressed the issue, saying that new employer guidance will be published today – including staff staying two metres away from each other.
Shadow Health Minister Jonathan Ashworth raised the issue in the House of Commons, asking whether employers could get a fine for making people come in when they could work from home instead.
Mr Hancock said: “Absolutely, those fines are available if that is absolutely necessary”, before adding: “The actions we took yesterday are not actions any UK government would want to take.”
He continued: “The goal is clear, to slow the rate of transmission, to protect the NHS and save lives. Our instructions are simple. Stay at home. Employers should be taking every possible step to make sure that remote working can happen.
“I want to be clear that where people absolutely cannot work from home, they can still go to work. Indeed it’s important that they do to keep the country running.
“Key workers, for example in the NHS, social care, pharmacists, medicine supply chain, should go to work unless they are self-isolating due to symptoms.
“We’ll be publishing guidance later today to explain steps that employers must take to ensure that employees are safe, including making sure there is a two metre gap between workers wherever possible.”
New Covid-19 Rules: Everything you need to know as masks become compulsory in shops and on transport
The new rules will come into place tomorrow at 4
From tomorrow, November 30th, the use of face masks and coverings will once again be compulsory in shops and on public transport.
The government made the decision as part of its response to the new Omicron variant, which is said to be ‘more transmissible and have more mutations which could weaken the effect of vaccines and natural immunity.’
The change in rules was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson after cases of the new variant were detected at several locations across the UK. The Health Secretary Sajid Javid gave more detail yesterday, November 28th, saying the masks rule would apply from 4am on Tuesday.
Here’s everything you need to know:
Where will face masks be compulsory after November 30th?
Face masks and coverings will be mandatory in all shops and on all forms of public transport.
A statement from the Government says: “From 4am Tuesday November 30th, face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.”
However, all hospitality will be exempt from the rule change, with the Prime Minister saying further details would be outlined by the Health Secretary ‘in the course of the next day or so’.
Will face masks be compulsory in schools?
While staff and secondary school students are being ‘strongly advised’ to wear face masks in communal areas from Monday, the rule won’t be mandatory in schools.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi recommends that staff, visitors and pupils in Year 7 and above should wear masks in communal areas in schools, colleges and universities such as corridors, canteens and halls.
What other measures are being brought in?
Passengers arriving into the UK from Tuesday will have to take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. PCR tests must be purchased from private providers as free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose.
All close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the Omicron variant must also self-isolate for ten days regardless of their vaccination status.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty also said during Saturday’s press conference that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will consider extending boosters from the over-40s to the over-18s.
Will more restrictions be brought in?
The Health Secretary said during Saturday’s press conference that it was ‘nowhere near’ the time to reintroduce social distancing rules and work-from-home guidance, and was hopeful the mask mandate would be removed ‘within weeks’.
Also speaking on Saturday, Boris Johnson added that the measures are simply a ‘precaution’ and are in place to ‘buy time for scientists’ while more is learned about the Omicron variant.
Iceland boss says shoppers won’t be forced to wear face masks
‘We need to continue to encourage people to shop in stores if they feel comfortable’
Iceland supermarkets across the country won’t be forcing shoppers to wear face masks, despite new Covid rules being introduced this week.
The supermarket chain’s managing director Richard Walker has announced that he won’t be asking staff to enforce the new restrictions as they focus on the ‘long-term recovery of the high street.’
Walker told The Daily Mail: “We fully support the reintroduction of compulsory face masks in shops, however, we won’t be asking our store colleagues to police it.
“Our store teams, alongside all retail workers, have shown heroic efforts in terms of ensuring safety for customers and building back consumer confidence and it’s crucial that we stay focused on the long-term recovery of the high street.
“We need to continue to encourage people to shop in stores if they feel comfortable, and I’m hopeful that the latest guidelines won’t discourage customers from doing so.”
Supermarket giant Co-op has also said that they would not be enforcing face coverings in their stores – nor would they refuse to serve a customer without one.
The British Retail Consortium has said it’s down to the police to enforce the measure, saying, as per The Sun: “Customers are asked to respect the rules and be considerate to their fellow shoppers and to hard-working shop staff.”
This comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the return of face masks and self-isolation in a bid to tackle the new Omicron variant.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed yesterday that face masks will be once again made compulsory in shops and on public transport from tomorrow, Tuesday November 30th.
While appearing on The Andrew Marr Show, Javid confirmed that people who refuse to wear masks will be hit with new sanctions, saying: “Yes, it will be a legal requirement by government regulations to wear masks in shops and public transport.”
The key symptoms of the new Omicron Covid variant have been revealed
Here’s what we know so far…
As new measures are put in place to combat the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, speculation surrounding its symptoms are rife.
While little is still known about the latest variant of Covid-19, it is said to be ‘more transmissible and have more mutations which could weaken the effect of vaccines and natural immunity,’ and has already been detected in a handful of locations across the UK.
Measures have been introduced to combat the new strain, which is believed to have originated in South Africa, such as making face masks compulsory once again in shops and on public transport.
But what exactly are the Omicron symptoms, and how do they differ from regular Coronavirus?
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, who spotted the variant when patients arrived at her practice in Pretoria, South Africa, says the new variant has presented some young people with intense fatigue and a six-year-old child with a high pulse rate.
Dr. Coetzee said symptoms didn’t include a sore throat, but more of a ‘scratchy’ throat, and a mild headache. She added there was also no cough.
The thirty-three-year-old GP also pointed out that none of the patients had the loss of sense of taste or smell which has become a common indicator of Covid-19.
Dr Coetzee, who also chairs South Africa’s Medical Association, said: “Their symptoms were so different and so mild from those I had treated before.”
She added that most of the patients she has seen so far are healthy men who are ‘feeling so tired’.
As of 4am tomorrow, November 30th, face masks will be compulsory in all shops and on public transport. A statement from the Government says: “From 4am Tuesday November 30th, face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.”
Find out more here.