Personally, I haven’t felt much hardship in not taking to the skies for sunnier climes but I know lots of people who just can’t wait for their next tropical break. Well, it looks like we might all have to look more locally, again, as the government has brought in a number of new restrictions around travelling from the UK as fears around the Omicron Covid variant grow.
Masks on, keep your distance and make sure you’ve had your booster. I’m hoping we don’t have to be told to wash our hands again. Surely we didn’t ever stop doing that? It was only in July that we were told all Covid rules would be lifted – and then scrapped the ‘traffic light’ system for travelling in October – but concerns are now rising over the Omicron variant which was first found in South Africa last week. Early evidence suggests the variant has a higher infection risk and the number of cases in the UK is rising daily – believed to be linked to travel to South Africa.
Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca have all been working on developing ways to change the current vaccine, in anticipation of new variants, which means a new vaccine could be distributed in just a few months time. In the meantime, rules including wearing masks in shops and taking PCR tests while travelling have been reintroduced to help slow the spread.
The latest restrictions mean that face masks are once again mandatory in shops and on public transport.
All international arrivals will also have to take a PCR test by the end of their second day in the UK.
The rules will be reviewed in three weeks time, according to Boris Johnson, and experts are looking at extending the booster jab programme to all over-18s. The new rules will be enforceable by a penalty, meaning those who fail to comply will be fined. Failure to wear a mask will result in a £200 fine for the first offence, but this charge will then double for any further rule breaks. The new rules around travel and mask-wearing came into force at 4am today. Here we go again? Yes, but let’s not lose sight of why. There is a bigger picture and what is being asked of us is hardly even an inconvenience.