Johnson imposes COVID-19 'Plan B' in England to contain Omicron
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed tougher COVID-19 restrictions in England on Wednesday, ordering people to work from home, wear masks in public places and use vaccine passes in a bid to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Trend reports citing Reuters.
Undermined by accusations that his staff partied at Downing Street during a Christmas lockdown last year, Johnson said Omicron was spreading rapidly and he had no choice but to move to "Plan B" to buy time and get more booster shots into arms.
While still a long way from the full lockdowns that hammered the economy earlier in the pandemic, the new measures could cut visitors to restaurants, cafes and shops in city centres in the run up to Christmas and deal a fresh blow to Britain's finances.
"While the picture may get better, and I sincerely hope that it will, we know that the remorseless logic of exponential growth could lead to a big rise in hospitalizations and therefore, sadly, in deaths," Johnson told a news conference.
Johnson, who lifted most COVID restrictions in England in July, had vowed to navigate the winter without resorting to a fourth COVID-19 lockdown, but had kept a so-called Plan B in reserve.