Work from home guidance reintroduced in England amid spiralling Omicron cases

13 December 2021, 06:18

Work from home guidance comes into force on Monday in England.
Work from home guidance comes into force on Monday in England. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Work from home guidance is being reintroduced in England today under new 'Plan B' coronavirus measures to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

People in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were already being asked to work from home following concerns over the new strain of coronavirus.

The measure is one of a raft of rule that have been brought in under the Government's 'Plan B', with restrictions ramped up as cases of the Omicron variant spread across the country.

Booster jabs have also been opened up to all those over the age of 18 today, under the Government's "Omicron Emergency Boost" plan.

By the end of the year, all adults can have the chance to get boosted - ahead of the previous goal to hit that target by the end of January.

Read more: PM opens booster jabs to all adults in England as he warns 'Omicron tidal wave is coming'

Read more: Covid-19 booster jabs: Who is eligible and how can you book?

In a televised address on Sunday night Mr Johnson said the UK faced an "Omicron emergency" with a "tidal wave" of the new variant coming.

Extra measures - known as Plan B - were announced last week amid growing concern over Omicron, which is spreading rapidly and is expected to become the dominant variant in the UK this week.

The measures included face masks being reintroduced in "most" public venues including cinemas and theatres and the NHS Covid pass will be needed in nightclubs and venues with large crowds.

Read more: PM brings back work from home guidance and more face mask rules in 'Plan B' Covid measures

Read more: UK Covid alert level rises from three to four as Omicron spreads

This includes unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and venues with more than 10,000 people.

Pubs and restaurants are exempt from this.

The new measures apply to England but Mr Johnson pledged to work with the devolved administrations on tackling the variant.

MPs are expected to vote on the new measures on Tuesday.

One of the three votes will be on Covid passes, and could be opposed by about 60 Tory MPs. However, all three votes are expected to pass as Labour is backing the government.

Experts had warned the Government that without new measures, a wave of Omicron could see somewhere between 25,000 and 75,000 people dead over the next five months.

Read more: Omicron: Get booster straight away if you are eligible, health officials urge

The new rules have been introduced following a turbulent few days for the Prime Minister, after multiple reports of Christmas parties held at No10 in 2020 - when London was under Covid restrictions.

Mr Johnson continues to face questions over his top team's alleged social events during last year's lockdowns after it emerged he hosted a virtual quiz before Christmas flanked by colleagues.

No10 said the PM had "briefly" attended the game, in which he was seen in an image leaked to the Sunday Mirror appearing virtually over a video call, flanked by two aides.

Read more: Labour tells PM to 'Fess up' over whether he "lied to country" over No10 events

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told the BBC it "looks as though" Mr Johnson contravened law when he took part in the quiz, with the ex-director of public prosecutions adding it was "very hard" to see how it was "compliant with the rules".

Boris Johnson has repeatedly insisted he has been told guidance was followed and a spokesperson said: "This was a virtual quiz. Downing Street staff were often required to be in the office to work on the pandemic response so those who were in the office for work may have attended virtually from their desks.

"The Prime Minister briefly took part virtually in a quiz to thank staff for their hard work throughout the year."

Tier 2 restrictions banned household mixing indoors with the exception of support bubbles, while a maximum of six people could meet outside.

Labour suggested Mr Johnson "might have misled MPs" with past statements.