Britain will face new restrictions on travel, increased testing and mandatory facemasks at shops. These are all part of new curbs that Boris Johnson announced last night in an effort to counter the Omicron version of Covid.

Winter holidays could be affected by the fact that anyone returning from abroad will need to take PCR tests.

After it was discovered that the Omicron variant of Omicron infected two UK citizens, one had been double-jabbed by the other, British scientists from Porton Down were examining swabs taken from cases in order to see how this’super mutant strain’ reacts to vaccinations.

Another important development was that any person who has come in contact with a new variant of the virus must isolate themselves for 10 days regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated.

Outlined by a businesslike Boris Johnson at a Downing Street press conference last night, the new rules – set to be in place for at least three weeks – were met with dismay by the travel industry. 

A raft of new Covid rules were announced by PM Boris Johnson at a Downing Street press conference on Saturday (pictured)

At a Downing Street press conference, PM Boris Johnson announced a slew of new Covid regulations (pictured).

Further details, including when the measures will come into force, are expected to be revealed by Ministers today

Ministers are likely to reveal additional details today, such as when and whereabouts of the new measures.

The return of mandatory facemasks in shops and on public transport was one of the new measures announced on Saturday

On Saturday, the government announced that mandatory facemasks will be reinstated at shops and in public transport. 

It was described by one chief executive as the “worst Christmas gift ever”

Ministers are likely to reveal additional details today, such as when and whereabouts of the new measures. 

According to the agreement, Scotland will also impose restrictions similar.

Other developments from yesterday

  • Mr Johnson said that facemasks must also be worn on all public transport – but said there are no plans to extend the restrictions to pubs, restaurants or cinemas;
  • It emerged that the two UK cases – in Nottingham and Brentwood, Essex – are linked, with both people thought to have recently returned from southern Africa;
  • Heathrow said that Terminal 4 will now be reopened for passengers coming from red-listed countries. These travelers will have to visit quarantine hotels.
  • Officials added four more southern African countries – Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia – to the red list, taking the total to ten alongside South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimababwe and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), which were put on the list on Friday.

Johnson made an apology for travelers about the restrictions by saying, “I’m afraid.” [they]Although it may sound difficult, that’s exactly how it has to be.

He described border control rules and the masking of Omicron viruses as necessary to allow scientists enough time to determine how transmissible they were and to assess how vaccine protection might be evaded.

“First, it is important to reduce the amount of seeding this variety in our country,” he stated. 

‘We need to buy time for our scientists to understand exactly what we are dealing with, and for us to get more people vaccinated and– above all – to get more people boosted; as well as to help our NHS prepare in what is an already challenging winter.’

He stressed that the government is not going to prohibit people from travelling, but he added: ‘We will ask anyone entering the UK to undergo a PCR test within the first day of arrival and self-isolate until they get a negative result.

In practice, that is likely to mean travellers will have to self-isolate for at least two days – and possibly longer – as most PCR tests take a minimum of 24 hours to come back. Day two testing packages typically cost between £90 and £100, meaning a family of five faces an added cost of £500 for a trip abroad.

Another 39,567 Covid cases and 131 deaths were recorded in the UK today. Department of Health officials posted nearly 40,000 daily infections ¿ down 3.36 per cent from 40,941 last Saturday ¿ after Sajid Javid announced that two cases of the 'monstrous' new Covid variant were detected. The number of people who have died 28 days after testing positive for Covid has also fallen by 12.7 per cent from 150 last week

The UK recorded another 39 567 Covid cases today and 131 deaths. Department of Health officials posted nearly 40,000 daily infections – down 3.36 per cent from 40,941 last Saturday – after Sajid Javid announced that two cases of the ‘monstrous’ new Covid variant were detected. Also, the number of Covid-positive people has fallen 12.7 percentage from 150 in last week to 28,740.

Chemical war lab tests samples from British cases

Stephen Adams is the Medical Editor of Mail on Sunday.

Last night, public health officers raced to find anyone in Britain who had been exposed to the Omicron variant.

One of the infected individuals is from Nottingham while the other was from Brentwood in Essex.

According to health officials, all members of the household are being tested for HIV and given instructions on how to isolate themselves. Further contact tracing is also underway. 

UK Health Security Agency, (UKHSA) took over Covid protection from Public Health England. They have not yet provided details on when and how they got back to the UK.

Officials have not said if the two cases were linked, but they did say that the pair were traveling together on an overseas trip or if they were sitting next to one another on a plane. 

The agency has sent samples of the virus from both the couple to its top security Porton Down location. Other samples of the virus are also being sent in bio-secure vials to South Africa.

Access to Omicron samples was also granted to Pfizer and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine team to accelerate their evaluation of the possibility that Omicron could outstrip the current protection. 

Paul Charles, the chief executive at The PC Agency travel consulting firm, stated that tour operators, agents, and airlines are ‘deeply worried’ about the recent travel bans. This could threaten the fragile recovery of the industry.

The red list and quarantine have returned to the hotels. The industry is giving the worst Christmas presents ever to the people just when we think we have moved on. 

“Ministers left consumers in complete limbo as they did not know how to make bookings for holidays. 

“This means that the industry is once again on the edge of a cliff.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said it will be three weeks before the Government reviews the travel ban – which would be December 17. 

Charles stated that this would result in holidays being cancelled because people can’t decide so close to Christmas.

Willie Walsh was the ex-head of British Airways’ parent company IAG. He stated: “Governments are responding in an emergency mode to the risk of the new coronavirus variant, creating fear amongst the traveling public. 

“We should draw upon the experiences of the last 2 years and move towards a coordinated approach to finding safe alternatives for border closures or quarantine. 

“Travel restrictions do not provide a permanent solution for controlling Covid variants.”

Johnson stated that the new measures were temporary and preventative and will be reviewed after three weeks.

He said, “At that time we should have more information about the continued effectiveness of our vaccinations. 

“I really hope we will discover that we remain in a strong place, and we can lift those measures again.

“But at the moment, it is the right course of action to stop the spreading of the new variant and slow its seeding. We also need to maximize our defenses so that the gains we’ve worked hard for are protected and we can save more lives.

Chris Whitty, chief medical officer, suggested strongly that the booster jabs available for over-40s be made available to everyone over 18. 

A hint was also given by him that 12- to 15-year olds would be eligible for a second vaccination dose. This group has only received one dose of the vaccine so far. There are concerns about possible side-effects.

Professor Whitty indicated that schools were experiencing ‘now-significant outbreaks’ of the disease in this age bracket, and second doses “clearly” should be investigated.