Return of masks to help 'buy time'

The return of some Covid rules will help buy time to determine if stronger action is needed to curb the new variant, an MP has said.

Mandatory mask-wearing is back in shops and on public transport from tomorrow as part of a string of measures to combat the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

It comes as fears mount over the spread of the new variant which is said to be more transmissible – and whether lockdown measures are needed once again to properly curb it.

Marco Longhi, MP for Dudley North, said the Government was taking action "very quickly" to introduce the measures and determine whether firm action is needed.

He said: "It feels like Public Health England and Number 10, along with the Health Secretary, are jumping on this very quickly just in case this variant turns out to be something very nasty.

"And if they can buy themselves some time by trying to contain the spread to basically decide whether more firm action is needed or there's not much to be worried about, because the vaccines will control the variant – that seems to be the logic at the moment.

"I understand how a large number of people will be wanting for Boris and No. 10 to take this very precautionary action – in the past, I believe Number 10 has been criticised for not doing things more quickly, but I know there will be many people feeling they've had enough and they don't want any more restrictions.

"This is a judgement each individual needs to make. It's not for me to impose anything on them. I want everyone to know I feel as equally as frustrated we're having to look at things in this way."

It comes as a new Covid-19 vaccination centre was opened in Wolverhampton's Mander Centre to make it easier for people to get jabbed – even when they're Christmas shopping.

Passengers arriving to the UK have been told that from Tuesday morning they will have to take a PCR test for Covid-19, with the expectation they will have to self-isolate until they test negative.

All contacts with a suspected case of Omicron will have to isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status, amid concerns existing jabs will be less effective against the strain that is believed to spread rapidly.

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