Boris Johnson delivers press conference on Omicron variant
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Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new COVID-19 guidelines, including the compulsory reintroduction of face coverings for shoppers. Supermarkets have since updated their shopping rules. Mr Johnson said: “We’ve had the fastest vaccine roll-out in Europe, and now the fastest booster campaign in Europe, with almost 16.8 million boosters in people’s arms, and though case numbers have remained relatively high, we’ve seen falling hospitalisations and falling numbers of deaths.
“But on Wednesday we received the news of a new variant – the so-called Omicron variant – I want to express my deep gratitude to scientists in South Africa who identified this new variant and shared this information widely and immediately.”
As well as placing countries on the red travel list and requiring a PCR test for those entering the UK, the Prime Minister also announced the tightening of face mask rules.
He continued: “We will also go further in asking all of you to help contain the spread of this variant, by tightening up the rules on face coverings in shops and on public transport.”
The use of face masks has been compulsory since July, when the rules were relaxed.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed to Sky News today that mandatory mask wearing in shops will come into force on November 30.
Supermarkets including discount retailer Aldi have already issued new rules surrounding face coverings.
Aldi has confirmed that from November 30, all customers will be required to wear a mask while visiting stores across the UK.
This doesn’t apply to those who are medically exempt.
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Giles Hurley, Chief Executive Officer at Aldi UK, said: “The safety of our colleagues and customers is our number one priority.
“Following the latest Government announcement, wearing a face mask will be mandatory for everyone that shops at Aldi from Tuesday November 30, except for those who have a medical exemption.”
The budget retailer has also confirmed that other measures such as hand sanitiser and screens will also stay in place.
The Co-op said in a statement: “Our priority is to provide a safe shopping and working environment for our customers and colleagues.
“As throughout the pandemic, we support our customers wearing a face covering when shopping in our stores.
“It’s not our place to enforce face coverings or to refuse to serve a customer who chooses not to wear one.”
Morrisons has also said it would follow all Government guidelines.
A spokesperson for Asda said: “We’ve always followed Government guidance during the pandemic and we are awaiting further details from the Government following [Saturday’s] announcement.”
Sainsbury’s added it would also be reviewing the latest guidance and will keep customers updated.
Consumers are being asked to “respect” new rules on mandatory face masks in shops in England this week, following the discovery of the new variant.
The British Retail Consortium, which represents the industry, has said it is up to the police to enforce the measure.
It added: “However, customers are asked to respect the rules and be considerate to their fellow shoppers and to hard-working staff.
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