Johnson imposes COVID-19 ‘Plan B’ in England to contain Omicron

  • Johnson says Omicron is spreading fast
  • UK has found 568 cases of Omicron
  • Rules include COVID passports, work from home

LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed stricter restrictions on COVID-19 in England on Wednesday, ordering people to work from home, wear masks in public places and use vaccine passes in an attempt for stopping the spread of the Omicron. variant of coronavirus.

Undermined by allegations that his staff partied in Downing Street during a Christmas lockdown last year, Johnson said Omicron was spreading rapidly and he had no choice but to move to “Plan B” to buy time and get more booster doses. .

While still a long way from the full lockdowns that hit the economy early in the pandemic, the new measures could cut visitors to city-center restaurants, cafes and shops in the run-up to Christmas and strike a new one. blow to Britain’s finances.

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“While the outlook may improve, and I sincerely hope that it will, we know that the relentless logic of exponential growth could lead to a large increase in hospitalizations and thus, sadly, deaths,” Johnson said at a conference. press.

The British pound had fallen in the lead-up to the announcement and investors reduced their bets on an interest rate hike from the Bank of England next week.

Johnson, who lifted most of the COVID restrictions in England in July, had promised to navigate the winter without resorting to a fourth COVID-19 lockdown, but had kept a so-called Plan B in reserve.

Some of those measures, such as reintroducing masks on public transportation and in stores, had already been put in place, but on Wednesday Johnson said people should also work from home if they can.

Face masks will be required in public places and a COVID pass will be required to access nightclubs and places with large crowds.

Britain has recorded more than 145,000 deaths from COVID-19 during the pandemic.

Since then, a quick start to the vaccine program has helped contain the impact, and in recent months, cases have been stable at around 43,000 daily infections and 135 deaths after Johnson lifted most of the restrictions in England. .

But the emergence of the Omicron variant has made governments around the world nervous. Britain has so far discovered 568 confirmed cases of Omicron.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own COVID restrictions and had already established stricter rules.

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Additional reporting by Alistair Smout, David Milliken, William James, Paul Sandle, and Elizabeth Piper, written by Kate Holton and Guy Faulconbridge, edited by David Milliken, William Schomberg, and Janet Lawrence

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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