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With Omicron Cases Rising, England Moves to 'Plan B'

New rules include COVID passes for nightclubs
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2021 3:31 PM CST
England Deploys COVID 'Plan B'
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at a press conference in London's Downing Street, Wednesday Dec. 8, 2021.   (Adrian Dennis/Pool via AP)

(Newser) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, warning of the spread of the omicron variant and the "remorseless logic of exponential growth," announced Wednesday that England is moving to "Plan B" for limiting COVID cases. The new rules, like those already in place in Scotland and Wales, make masks mandatory in most public indoor spaces and require COVID-19 passes for entry to nightclubs and other large venues, Politico reports. People can get a pass if they are fully vaccinated, have tested negative for the virus in the previous 48 hours, or have had a positive test result and completed self-isolation in the previous six months, per the BBC.

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"It's become increasingly clear that omicron is growing much faster than the previous delta variant, and it's spreading rapidly all around the world," said Johnson, who warned that a rise in hospitalizations and deaths would be inevitable without tighter restrictions. "Most worryingly, there is evidence that the doubling time of omicron could currently be between two and three days," he said, per the AP. Johnson, who urged people to work from home if possible, said more than 500 omicron cases have been detected in the UK so far but the true total is probably much higher.

The move comes amid allegations that there was a Christmas party at 10 Downing Street during a strict lockdown last year—and outrage over a leaked video showing Johnson's staffers joking about the event. Keir Starmer, leader of fhe opposition Labour Party, tweeted that he welcomed stronger anti-COVID measures, the Guardian reports. He added: "But Boris Johnson’s recent actions have undermined public trust. His contempt for the public won’t be forgotten. Serious times call for serious leadership. I hope the Prime Minister takes his own guidance this time." (Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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