Though Covid-19 vaccines are available, the government has had to act fast following the emergence of the Omicron variant. The prime minister has confirmed new temporary and preventive measures that could result in fines of up to £6,400 if flouted. Here’s what you need to know.
What new measures came into effect on 30 November 2021?
The Omicron variant of the virus is more transmissible than previous variants, and so far, 32 cases have been reported in the UK. The government introduced the following measures to slow down its spread as work continues to fully understand how these mutations are changing the behaviour of the virus:
- Face coverings have now been made compulsory in shops, banks, post offices, hairdressers and transport hubs like railway stations and airports, and on public transport.
- The same rule applies in tattoo studios, nail bars, pharmacies, takeaways, auction houses and taxis, and during driving lessons.
- It’s now mandatory for all international travellers to take a PCR test on day two after arrival in the UK. They must also self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
- If you’re contacted by NHS Test and Trace, especially for Omicron, you must self-isolate regardless of your age or vaccination status.
Keep in mind that these measures are temporary and will be reviewed every three weeks.
What fines could you face for flouting mask-wearing rules?
When masks first became compulsory, Brits faced fines of up to £100. According to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), 2,306 fixed penalty notices were issued in England and Wales in the year to July. Of these, 641 individuals were fined for failing to wear a mask on public transport.
Currently, Brits who flout mask-wearing rules face fines starting at £200 for a first offence. However, if you pay your penalty within 14 days, then it is halved to £100.
That’s not all! If you’re caught a second time, the fine rises to £400. And it rises again to £800 if you’re caught the third time. If you continuously flout the rules, you could face fines of up to a whooping £6,400!
Are there other fines to worry about?
In a word, yes. Failing to self-isolate, especially after being notified that you have come into contact with an Omicron variant case, could lead to a £1,000 fine. And if you’re a repeat offender, you could face a fine of up to £10,000!
The government has confirmed that the Covid-19 vaccine is the best line of defence so far, but this does not mean you can’t still catch the virus. And with new variants creeping in unpredictably, it’s essential to stay safe and protect yourself and others.
Also, if you’re planning to travel, it’s wise to check how the new Omicron variant could impact your plans. A number of countries have already been added to the government’s red list:
- South Africa
- Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)
Stay up to date with the latest FDCO guidance so that you don’t get caught out and incur expenses you have not budgeted for.
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