Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that England will move to Plan B measures, as outlined in the Covid-19 fall / winter plan.
It comes as Omicron is rapidly spreading across the UK – with several cases confirmed in Lancashire and more expected.
As seen in previous waves, a rapid increase in cases can lead to a rapid increase in hospitalizations.
The switch to Plan B is meant to help slow the spread of the Omicron variant and reduce the chances of the NHS coming under excruciating pressure, while also gaining time to deliver more boosters.
While it is likely that there is some level of reduced efficacy of the vaccine against Omicron, it is still too early to determine the extent of this, and more time is needed to study the variant.
Lancashire County Council Public Health Director Dr Sakthi Karunanithi said: âGetting vaccinated is always the best thing people can do to protect themselves. I strongly encourage anyone eligible for a first, second or booster vaccine to do so without delay.
âAt the moment, vaccinations alone are unfortunately not enough, which is why each of us must take responsibility by following the national Covid-19 advice.
âWe need to take the Omicron threat seriously.
âIt’s understandable that people want to return to normalcy after living with Covid-19 for so long, but it is only through collective action that we can overcome this latest setback. “
Dr Arif Rajpura, Director of Public Health for the Blackpool Council, added: âFor some time now I have been recommending people to be more careful than was mandated – like wearing face coverings on public transport and in crowded places and work from home when possible.
âThe arrival of Omicron means that it is more important than ever that people take these basic precautions.
“I think the government’s decision to switch to plan B is the right one and to support all the measures described there.”
The new measures mean that from December 10, mandatory face covering rules will be extended to most indoor environments, but will not include hospitality settings.
From December 13, people will be advised to work from home if they can. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to come to their place of work.
Finally, from December 15, people will be required to show their NHS COVID Pass to enter places where large crowds congregate, such as nightclubs or major sporting events. This will mean an obligation to show vaccination status or a recent negative Covid test to enter certain high-risk settings.