Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that some Covid-19 restrictions will return in England. 

Last night, at a Covid-19 conference, Mr Johnson said mask wearing would become mandatory again, amongst other rules. 

The new restrictions come as two cases of the Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa, have been identified in the UK. 

READ MORE: COVID: new restrictions put in place amid Omicron variant

Why are the rules changing?

New Cocid-19 restrictions are being put in place in as two cases of the Omicron variant have been identified in Brentwood in Essex and Nottingham. 

The Prime Minister said the “temporary and precautionary” measures will be reviewed in three weeks, while the Government’s vaccine experts will be tasked with considering whether to extend booster jabs to all over-18s.  

The Omicron strain, designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation, appears to spread “very rapidly”, can transmit between the double-vaccinated and may partially reduce the protection of existing vaccines.

Mr Johnson said: “We need to take targeted and proportionate measures now as a precaution while we find out more.

“First we need to slow down the seeding of the variant in this country, we need to buy time for our scientists to understand exactly what we’re dealing with, and for us to get more people vaccinated, and above all to get more people boosted.”

Belgium, Australia, Germany and Italy have also confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.  

What are the new rules? 

The new measures are: 

  • Face coverings will become mandatory on public transport and in shops, but not hospitality
  • All international arrivals entering England must take a day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result
  • All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status. They will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace

South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia have also all been added to the red list. 

When will the new rules come into force? 

Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday that mandatory mask-wearing will return to shops and public transport on Tuesday. 

Passengers arriving to the UK have also been told that from Tuesday morning they will have to take a PCR test and they will have to self-isolate until they test negative.

MPs are expected to be given a vote to approve the measures on masks and isolation after they come into force. 


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or 01865 425 445.