Due to concerns about the Omicron variant, the Goverment introduced new measures from 04:00 on Tuesday 30 November to ensure the continued safety of the public and to reduce the impact of the emerging variant.
The key changes that impact West End businesses are:
- Face coverings are compulsory in all shops and on public transport in England. This applies to customers and those employees in customer facing roles. The new regulation does not currently apply to hospitality businesses. Businesses are advised that perspex screens are not a replacement for face coverings and should be seen as additional protection.
- Anyone arriving in the UK has to take a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival and must to self-isolate until they get a negative result. This is applicable to all travellers, whether you are vaccinated or not, and whether you have travelled from a Red List country or not.
- All contacts of suspected cases of Omicron now have to isolate for 10 days, whether they have been vaccinated or not.
From an operational perspective, while stores will do their best to ensure that shoppers obey the law, these rules are only legally enforceable by police & authorities. New West End Company is in contact with Westminster City Council & the Metropolitan Police Service to discuss enforcement.
These new measures will be reviewed in three weeks’ time. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has made it clear that it hopes that these will be the only measures needed and that currently there are no plans to implement any further restrictions such as capacity or social distancing.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged BEIS to consider the public perception of imposing new restrictions on retail shops only. With this in mind, we encourage members to contact the BRC if you experience any shifts in customer trends, e.g. “panic buying” so that Government bodies can be informed.
The BRC is also asking BEIS to consider avoiding stop-start measures and to keep these new measures in place for longer to prevent last minute changes and disruption to businesses.
Alongside these measures, today it was announced that the vaccine programme will be expanded and accelerated:
- Booster jabs will be offered to all over 18s who have had their first and second vaccine.
- Gap between second dose and booster will be reduced from six to three months.
- Severely immunocompromised people will be offered a fourth dose of a vaccine.
- Children aged 12 to 15 will also invited for second dose three months after their first vaccine