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Brits face tougher mask rules in fight to save Christmas over Omicron Covid

2 min read

The Labour Party has, this morning, joined the calls from doctors and scientists to re-introduce the need for face masks in hospitality settings.

This call came after six new cases of the Omicron strain of coronavirus were found in Scotland – including two people who have no links to travel abroad.

The British Medical Association said there is only a short time period to act to get the variant under control, and it is feared that it could have a "devastating impact" on the NHS, despite leaders from South Africa – where it is believed the new strain has come from – have said that symptoms of the variant are "very mild".

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has ignored the calls for tougher restrictions, although face coverings in shops and on public transport will become mandatory again from tomorrow, with fines of £200 being issued for those who fail to comply.

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner told BBC Breakfast: "We recommend people do wear them when they're out and about.

"Wearing a mask can be a very protective way of supporting people and stopping the spread quickly.

"We think that we should be encouraging people to wear them indoors, when they are mixing with people as much as possible – it is the right thing to do."

Ms Rayner also called on the Government to finally introduce proper sick pay for those who are forced to self-isolate due to the virus – and that everyone should be encouraged to "work from home" once again.

"Sick pay is one of the most crucial things we can do to ensure that everybody can do the right thing and protect people from the new variant."

Masks will become mandatory in schools, for Years 7 and up, from tomorrow, but in communal areas only – not classrooms.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has attempted to reassure the UK population that Christmas will not be ruined, stating last week that it will be far better than last year – which isn't saying much.

So far, the Omicron variant has been spotted in several countries, with 13 more cases being found in the Netherlands last night.

Denmark, Australia, Germany, Italy, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong also recorded cases, while 10 African nations are now on the UK's red travel list, which means you will have to quarantine in a Government-approved hotel for 11 nights upon arrival.

The South African doctor who first found the new strain, Dr Angelique Coetzee, has accused the UK of "panicking unnecessarily", but said that "maybe we will say something different in two weeks".

She added: "What we are seeing in South Africa, and remember I’m at the epicentre, it’s extremely mild."

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