Lancashire’s Directors of Public Health are urging residents to “get back to basics” after the government reintroduced several new Covid measures in light of the Omicron variant.
From today (Tuesday 30 November), face masks will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport.
In addition, all travellers arriving into the country from 4am on Tuesday 30 November will be required to take a PCR test on or before day 2 and self-isolate until they have received a negative test result. Free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose.
All close contacts of anyone who have tested positive for the Omicron variant will be instructed by NHS Test and Trace to isolate for 10 days regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.
The UK’s vaccination programme is also being significantly ramped up in response to the Omicron variant, which was first discovered in South Africa.
It was announced on Monday that booster jabs will be offered to all over 18s, with the gap between the second dose and booster reduced from six to three months.
Those coming forward for a booster will be given either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine as these generate a very strong immune response.
Children aged 12 to 15 will also be invited for second dose three months after first, while severely immunocompromised people will be offered a fourth dose of a vaccine.
The NHS is working at pace to put this next phase of the vaccination programme in place and will shortly set out how it will be delivered. This will include how booster jabs will be given in priority order so that the most vulnerable people are protected first, while also increasing capacity to vaccinate millions more people in a shorter space of time.
The NHS will contact people when it is time to book in for their vaccine.
Infection rates remain high in Lancashire, driven largely by the Delta variant, with hospitals still seeing high numbers of patients with Covid-19 and a significant number of other issues.
With Christmas just around the corner, public health chiefs in Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool are urging residents to control the spread of the virus by following the national guidance and doing the simple things we have done throughout the pandemic.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council, said: “I strongly encourage anyone who is eligible to get their booster vaccination without delay.
“And if you have not come forward for your first or second jab then it is not too late – it is more important than ever to get the protection the vaccines offer.
“However, at this moment in time vaccinations alone are not enough.
“The additional measures are not big restrictions to our freedom but – when combined with vaccinations – can make a big difference if we all follow them.”
Prof Dominic Harrison, Blackburn with Darwen’s Director of Public Health, has urged everyone in Lancashire to follow the new measures to help control the spread of Covid-19.
“I know that many people have been enjoying getting back to some kind of normality, but I would urge everyone to take the threat of this new variant seriously,” Prof Harrison said.
“A return to wearing face coverings in public places once more seems a small price to pay to avoid further restrictions being reintroduced.
“I would also urge anyone who hasn’t yet had their booster dose, or event their first dose, to take up the opportunity now.”
Dr Arif Rajpura, Director of Public Health for Blackpool Council, added: “For some time now I have been recommending that people exercise more caution than was mandated – such as wearing face coverings on public transport and in crowded places.
“I am strongly encouraging anyone who is eligible for a vaccine – whether it is a first, second or booster jab – to come forward without delay.”
For more information visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus