The Prime Minister announced today in a coronavirus briefing to the public that they must return to working from home wherever possible from Monday (13 December), as well as the introduction of vaccine passports for large events such as football matches, music concerts, and nightclub events.
The NHS pass can still be obtained with two doses of the vaccine, however this will be kept under review as the boosters roll out.
From Friday 10 December, face masks will become mandatory in most public indoor venues including in theatres and live venues, although they will not be required when it is not practical - such as when people are eating, drinking, exercising or singing.
The decision was taken after the Prime Minister met with his Cabinet today (8 December), and comes against the backdrop of the ongoing controversy about an alleged Christmas party at Downing Street on 18 December last year.
According to the Financial Times, one senior Conservative source suggested that the move was a ‘dead cat’ that Johnson is using to distract from the controversy, for which he apologised in Parliament earlier today during Prime Minister’s Questions - though he still denies that the party ever happened.
The move comes as scientists and politicians alike remain worried about the emergence of the Omicron variant of the virus, which is thought to be more transmissible than the currently dominant Delta variant.
Scientists have called for patience as more data is gathered on the variant, including information as to whether the variant causes more severe illness.
The new restrictions are aimed at slowing the spread of the new virus variant whilst the vaccine booster jab campaign is stepped up.
All people over 18 in the UK are to be offered a booster jab this winter, it was recently announced.
Whether or not the variant is found to cause more serious disease, it is likely that an increase of cases – of which the past week saw more reported than at any time since January – would inevitably lead to higher rates of hospitalisation and deaths.
The measures will aim to protect the National Health Service throughout winter, which is already a difficult time due to seasonal illness, amongst other problems.
However, concerns remain about whether the British public will comply with the restrictions after the emergence of the video showing members of Johnson’s senior staff joking about the alleged party.