Omicron Scare: British PM Johnson imposes COVID ‘Plan B’

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London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed tougher COVID-19 restrictions in England, ordering people to work from home, wear masks in public places and use vaccine passes to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

Johnson said on Wednesday that Omicron was spreading rapidly and he had no choice but to move to “Plan B” while a vaccine booster programme rolls out.

While still a long way from the full lockdowns imposed earlier in the pandemic, the new measures were described as a “hammer blow” for city centre restaurants, cafes and shops that are desperate for Christmas trade to rebuild their finances.

“While the picture may get better, and I sincerely hope that it will, we know that the remorseless logic of exponential growth could lead to a big rise in hospitalisations and therefore, sadly, in deaths,” Johnson told a news conference.

Johnson, who lifted most COVID restrictions in England in July following a rapid vaccine rollout, had pledged to navigate the winter without resorting to a fourth COVID-19 lockdown, but had kept a so-called “Plan B” in reserve.

Part of those measures, such as reintroducing masks on public transport and in shops, had already been brought in, but on Wednesday, Johnson said people should also now work from home.

Face masks will be required in public venues, such as theatres and cinemas, and a COVID pass will be mandatory for access to nightclubs and venues with large crowds.

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