The British Medical Association (BMA) is urging the Government to use the ‘small window of opportunity’ to limit the impact of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron by extending the mask mandate to all public indoor and closed settings. 

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement that mask wearing will be made compulsory in shops and on public transport, the BMA said that the reintroduction of mandatory mask wearing is sensible and the right thing to do.

After two confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the UK this week, it wants this mandate to extend all public indoor and closed settings. including the hospitality industry.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “This addition to government measures will have minimal economic and social impact, but rather evidence tells us that it will help to further reduce the spread of the virus.

“We only have a small window of opportunity to get this right to ensure that we don’t lose control of this new variant, which has the potential to have a devastating impact on the health service. The Government must act now, or we risk seeing even more unnecessary deaths.”

New temporary and precautionary Covid-19 measures 

From Tuesday 30 November face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.

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. These PCR tests can be purchased from private providers. Free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose.

This update adds to the measures rapidly implemented earlier this week to prevent the spread of the new variant including travel restrictions and meaning all close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the Omicron variant are required to isolate for 10 days regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.