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.
Meat Loaf has died aged 74
The singer’s agent confirmed the tragic news this morning
Iconic singer and actor Meat Loaf has died at the age of seventy-four, his agent confirmed this morning.
A cause of death is yet to be announced.
The American musician – real name Marvin Lee Aday – reportedly died on January 20th with his wife Deborah by his side.
His family said in a statement: “Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight surrounded by his wife Deborah, daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends.
“His amazing career spanned 6 decades that saw him sell over 100 Million albums worldwide and star in over 65 movies, including Fight Club, Focus, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Wayne’s World.
The statement, which was posted today on his official Facebook page, also said: “Bat Out of Hell remains one of the top 10 selling albums of all time.
“We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man.
“We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time.
“From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!”
Drivers and passengers face £1,000 fines for opening their door incorrectly under new Highway Code rule
Here’s everything you need to know…
Drivers and passengers across the UK have been warned about a new Highway Code rule change that could land them with a hefty fine.
The new rule, which has been put in place to protect cyclists, will fine drivers and passengers as much as £1,000 if they open their car door incorrectly.
Instead of just opening the door, motorists will now need to adopt the ‘Dutch Reach’ technique, which involves you using the hand furthest from the door to open it – if you’re the one behind the wheel, you’d use your left hand, on the passenger side, you would use your right, just to clear it up a bit.
This technique has been proven to be safer because opening the door with the hand furthest away prompts a driver to turn their body towards the door, therefore giving them a look over their shoulder as they go to exit their vehicle.
This way, they will clock any cyclists or pedestrians approaching or passing by their car that they may have otherwise missed if they hadn’t have checked.
The new section under rule 239 will read: “Where you are able to do so, you should open the door using your hand on the opposite side to the door you are opening; for example, use your left hand to open a door on your right-hand side.
“This will make you turn your head to look over your shoulder. You are then more likely to avoid causing injury to cyclists or motor cyclists passing you on the road, or to people on the pavement.”
If someone injures a cyclist or pedestrian by opening their door without checking, they could face a fine of up to £1,000, though no penalty points can be added to the offender’s licence.
This comes as the Highway Code undergoes a number of rule changes in favour of pedestrians and cyclists; a new section under rule 186 states that road users will now be forced to give priority to cyclists on roundabouts.
The rule, expected to come into force from January 29th, states: “You should give priority to cyclists on the roundabout. They will be travelling more slowly than motorised traffic.
“Give them plenty of room and do not attempt to overtake them within their lane. Allow them to move across your path as they travel around the roundabout.”
The rule change will also require motorists to give way to cyclists and pedestrians at junctions, pedestrians waiting to cross the road into which or from they are turning, as well as pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing.
The new rule has been introduced in an attempt to ensure that road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.
You can read the new rules in full here.
People who test positive for Covid in England won’t have to self-isolate soon
‘The self-isolation regulations expire on March 24th, at which point I very much expect not to renew them’
The legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid will by dropped ‘by March’, Boris Johnson has announced this week.
The Prime Minister told MPs during yesterday’s PMQs that the rule will be allowed to be lapsed when all Covid regulations expire on March 24th, adding that this date could even be brought forward to a closer date if a vote is passed.
Johnson told MPs: “As we return to Plan A, the House will know that some measures still remain, including those on self-isolation.
“On Monday we reduced the isolation period to five full days with two negative tests, and there will soon come a time when we can remove the legal requirement to self-isolate altogether, just as we don’t place legal obligations on people to isolate if they have flu.
“As Covid becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others.
“The self-isolation regulations expire on March 24th, at which point I very much expect not to renew them.”
Under the current guidance, those who test positive for Covid have to quarantine for at least five full days, so long as they test negative on a lateral flow test on days five and six.
Also at yesterday’s PMQs, the Prime Minister announced that restrictions on visits to care homes will be eased further, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid to begin setting out plans ‘in the coming days’.
It was also confirmed that from Thursday January 27th, mandatory Covid passes will no longer be needed and people will not be asked to work from home where possible.
Johnson added that face masks will not be mandatory anywhere from this date, prompting loud cheers and shouts from the Tory back benches.
And from today, face masks are no longer required to be worn by students in classrooms.