Europe is currently battling a surge of new COVID-19 cases, with countries such as Austria and the Netherlands already implementing lockdowns to mitigate the effects of the spread.
With the reintroduction of lockdowns and other stringent safety regulations, many in the UK are worried that social restrictions will once again be in place.
The World Health Organisation implied their distress about the rise of coronavirus cases on the continent, especially with the possibility that Europe could reach 700,000 more deaths by March next year unless urgent action is taken.
However, as people anxiously wait for news regarding the reintroduction of COVID-19 restrictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson assured that Britain could guarantee a lockdown-free Christmas.
On his way to the G20 Summit in Rome, he told journalists, “I see no evidence whatever to think that any kind of lockdown is on the cards.”
He also added, “Yes, it is true that cases are high, but they do not currently constitute any reasons to go to Plan B.” Since July 19, also celebrated as “Freedom Day,” his government has adamantly refused to reinstate COVID-19 restrictions such as mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing measures despite calls to bring in extra safety measures.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson preferred to pass the responsibility of keeping safe to the public and pursue his initial “Plan A” of promoting vaccine take-up and booster jabs; addressing the people; he pleaded, “Please, please, please can everybody get their boosters.”
Until now, he has been consistent in upholding his decision in prioritising the return to normalcy and reopening the economy.
UK Coronavirus Rules this Christmas
Another coronavirus strain called “Omicron Variant’ has been identified earlier this week. According to scientists, this new COVID-19 variant has an unusually high number of mutations, and they believe that such mutations will likely increase transmissibility and vaccine resistance.
While there will not be any lockdown during the busy festive period, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced to implement anti-Covid measures to slow down and prevent the further spread of the variant. But what does it mean for Christmas?
The strictest rules will apply to foreign travellers coming to the UK. Visitors from abroad entering the UK must take a pcr swab test on day two of their arrival, then self-isolate until they get a negative test result.
The UK and Irish residents who arrived back from a country under the current travel red list must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for ten whole days. People can book packages for their hotel stay on the UK government’s website.
Travellers who have been in an affected country in the previous ten days cannot enter England. Additionally, the rules for red list countries apply to everyone regardless of age and vaccination status.
People who come in contact with an individual who tested positive for the Omicron variant must self-isolate at home for ten days, regardless of vaccination status. Should people need to quarantine, they will immediately be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
As mandated by the UK government, staff, visitors, and pupils are “strongly advised” to wear protective coverings in communal areas unless they are exempt. This rule will also apply to public transportations and shops in England but will not be mandatory in hospital venues.
The UK Vaccine Programme has recently been extended to all adults aged 40 and over. Booster jabs will also be offered to people who are at most risk of acquiring COVID-19, including:
- People aged 16 and over who have underlying health conditions.
- People aged 16 and over who are the primary carer of someone considered high-risk from getting COVID-19 or who live with someone likely to be infectious.
- Frontline health and social care workers.
Children aged 12 and 15 are currently not eligible for a booster shot and only being offered one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Other questions about COVID-19 booster jabs:
How to book a booster appointment?
People eligible for a third coronavirus vaccine shot will be contacted by the NHS either via text or letter. Individuals might also receive an invitation from their GP.
To book an appointment, they have the option to book a booster appointment online or head to the nearest walk-in vaccination centre.
Can booster jab be different from the first two doses?
Yes. People might be offered either Pfizer or Moderna as a booster dose. Evidence shows that mRNA vaccines can work best as boosters, even if individuals have received a different vaccine for their first two doses.
Those who cannot have either of the two COVID-19 vaccines mentioned will be offered AstraZeneca as it is the only vaccine approved for booster use. Research is underway to look for other options to use as a COVID-19 booster vaccine.
Are COVID-19 boosters effective?
Governments have been encouraging people to get a booster shot because it can effectively individuals against illness from COVID-19. This evidence is from a real-world study conducted by the UK Health Security Agency.
According to the study, two weeks after a booster dose, protection levels increased to 93.1% for those who had AstraZeneca for their first two doses and 94% for those who had Pfizer.
Can people who recently tested positive for COVID-19 have a booster jab?
People who had COVID-19 would have to wait for four weeks (28 days) from the day they tested positive before they could get a booster shot. The time gap will help separate any side effects of the vaccine from the effects of the illness.
Despite the widespread vaccine rollout, testing still plays a critical role in preventing the further spread of the virus. Now is not the time to rely on vaccines alone in preventing the COVID-19 virus. People should get a test for coronavirus if they have been exposed to someone feeling ill or when travelling abroad and other territories.
Are you looking for a testing provider?
Harley Medic International is a government-approved testing provider and an expert in COVID-19 testing. They have many locations across the UK, ensuring that a testing centre is near you. Getting a test is as easy as booking online and finding their closest clinic. Visit their website harleymedic.co.uk to learn more.