New Covid rules could last until March as fears over Omicron variant grow

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Covid self-isolation requirements could last for as long as March as fears over the Omicron variant grow.

Under new rules that came into force today, everyone who comes into contact with someone infected by the new strain must self-isolate for 10 days.

If they don't comply they face a whopping £10,000 fine even if they are fully vaccinated.

The draconian new rules are not set to expire until March 24, the Telegraph reports, but it is not guaranteed that the new system will remain in place until then.

The new coronavirus rules are set to be assessed in three weeks time, just in time for Christmas, but the government moved to reassure people that the country won't be placed in another lockdown.

There are now 22 confirmed Omicron cases in the UK.

Meanwhile, the Pfizer vaccine is likely to offer strong protection against severe disease from the Omicron variant as the head of BioNTech urged people not to "freak out".

If the threat from Omicron, which some people fear may be able to evade the vaccine, is considered to have lessened then the rules may be eased.

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BioNTech developed one of the world's most widely-used jabs with Pfizer, and the company's chief executive and founder Ugur Sahin said: "To my mind there's no reason to be particularly worried.

"The only thing that worries me at the moment is the fact that there are people that have not been vaccinated at all."

MPs told the Telegraph that they were concerned the new rules would lead to a "pandemic" and people cancelling Christmas parties to avoid having to isolate.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a press conference that Brits do not have to cancel festive plans, adding there is no immediate lockdown threat.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said uncertainty caused by such remarks was “extremely frustrating”.

He said: “At the very moment operating costs are at their highest, we are now faced with another poorly conceived communications strategy from Government which has and will severely impact businesses.

“Christmas bookings and advance ticket sales have already been hit following the announcement of the new Omicron variant.

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“The Government needs to recognise that, while restrictions are not in place for the hospitality and night-time economy sectors, we are reliving the moments of March 2020 where the Prime Minister asked people not to go to pubs, bars, clubs and theatres.

“It is surreal and extremely frustrating to see healthcare advisers publicly telling people not to socialise, giving unnecessary uncertainty to our customers and workforce.”

Last year Mr Johnson effectively cancelled Christmas days before December 25 as he implemented a strict lockdown amid a contagious new Covid-19 strain.

He said "we cannot continue with Christmas as planned" as millions of Brits were ordered to "stay home" in 2020.

  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown
  • Christmas

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