Omicron: How are Covid rules and booster jabs changing?

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Covid rules have been strengthened in response to concern over the newly identified Omicron variant.

The booster programme is also being expanded to millions more adults.

What are the new measures?

How are masks rules being tightened?

What’s happening with boosters?

The booster campaign is being stepped up because of Omicron:

  • Covid booster jabs will be offered to all over-18s
  • The gap between second measure and booster will be reduced to three months from the current six months
  • People who are severely immunosuppressed will be offered a fourth measure – as a booster – no sooner than three months after their third
  • Children aged 12 to 15 will be invited for a second measure, three months after their first

Every eligible person in England should be able to book their booster by the end of January, PM Boris Johnson said.

Boosters will be offered by age group – starting with the oldest – in five-year bands.

People are being urged not to try to book their booster until the NHS says it’s their turn.

Scotland and Wales have in addition to finalise details of how boosters will be given out. Northern Ireland has announced additional vaccination clinics to meet need.

Why are the new changes being made?

A new Covid variant – Omicron – has been identified, and there are fears that it could be more infectious and less responsive to vaccines.

Precautions are being taken until scientists can properly estimate what the new variant’s impact could be.

The government says it will review the changes again in three weeks’ time.

What are the chances of another lockdown?

The government has repeatedly said it has no plans for another lockdown in England.

In September, Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced a list of measures which would come into place if the NHS came under “unsustainable pressure”.

These included confront coverings, but also measures which have nevertheless not been brought in such as advising people to work from home and mandatory Covid passports.

What other restrictions are currently in place in England?

  • 1m-plus social distancing guidance remains in places such as hospitals and passport control
  • people are advised to test for Covid before going to crowded places or spending time with those who are at greater risk from Covid
  • Anyone testing positive has to self-isolate

What are the complete rules in England?

What’s the situation in Wales?

Current measures include:

  • NHS Covid Pass needed for entry to nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls and many other indoor and outdoor events
  • working from home wherever possible
  • confront coverings compulsory on public transport, and in shops and hospitals

What are the complete rules in Wales?

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What’s the situation in Northern Ireland?

  • a limit of 30 people from different households mixing indoors in domestic settings
  • confront coverings compulsory in shops, indoor seated venues and visitor attractions, public transport and some other settings
  • vaccine passports for venues including nightclubs, bars and cinemas

What are the rules in Northern Ireland?

What restrictions are currently in place in Scotland?

  • physical distancing rules keep in healthcare settings such as hospitals, GP surgeries and dentists, where the 2m (6ft) rule applies
  • confront coverings nevertheless compulsory on public transport and inside places like shops
  • all school staff and secondary pupils to use confront coverings indoors
  • indoor hospitality venues must collect customer contact details
  • working from home where possible
  • all over-18s required to prove their vaccine position at nightclubs and other venues

What are the rules in Scotland?

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