Returning travellers will have to self-isolate until they get a negative test

Returning travellers will have to self-isolate until they get a negative test (Picture: Getty)

Anyone arriving in England will have to take a PCR test on day two and self-isolate until they have a negative result.

Boris Johnson announced the new measure after two cases of the ‘worst ever’ Omicron variant were detected in England.

Officials believe the strain – which was discovered in South Africa – can evade antibodies and has a higher chance of re-infecting people who are double jabbed.

At a Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson said we need to ‘buy time for our scientists to understand exactly what we’re dealing with’ as he announced new rules to contain the spread of Omicron.

He said anyone entering the UK will now have to take a PCR test on day two and self-isolate until they get a negative result.

The PM added that face masks will return to shops and public transport.

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web
browser that
supports HTML5
video

The government has already put 10 countries from the southern African region on the ‘red’ travel list.

The PM said: ‘We now need to go further and implement proportionate testing regime from arrivals from across the whole world, so we’re not going to stop people traveling, I want to stress that, but we will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result.’

He added that measures at the border ‘can only ever minimise and delay’ the arrival of new variants, and so Omicron contacts will have to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

Currently, people who are double jabbed don’t have to quarantine after they’ve been around an infected person.

The PM said: ‘We will also go further in asking all of you to help contain the spread of this variant by tightening up the rules around face coverings in shops and public transport.’

To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web
browser that
supports HTML5
video

Mr Johnson said the measures were ‘temporary and precautionary’ and would be reviewed in three weeks.

When asked why he was not implementing ‘Plan B’ – which is the government’s backup strategy if the UK sees a surge of infections – he said he believed the new rules were proportionate to the threat posed.

While the effectiveness of vaccines against Omicron is currently unclear, Mr Johnson said there are ‘good reasons for believing they will provide at least some measure of protection’.

He said ‘we’re going to boost the booster campaign’ by asking the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to consider giving boosters to ‘as wide a group as possible as well as reducing the gap’ between second doses and the booster.

And asked whether more restrictions are on the way, the Prime Minister said he is ‘confident’ this Christmas ‘will be considerably better than last Christmas’.

‘We continue to be in a strong position largely thanks to the speed of the vaccine rollout, another booster rollout and I think I’m going to stick with the formula I’ve used before, which is I’m pretty confident to absolutely confident this Christmas will be considerably better than last Christmas,’ he said.

The prime minister was flanked by the chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, and the UK’s chief scientific advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance.

Sir Patrick said vaccine makers are already looking at how they can make them more effective against emerging variants, and that a jab designed to specifically target Omicron could be created in ‘about 100 days’.

But he said the UK may need to ‘face up’ to the possibility of further action if this doesn’t work.

‘If it’s very transmissible and does cause big escape, then clearly that’s a major issue we have to face up to,’ he said.

‘But that isn’t what we know at the moment, we need to get that information.’

Got a story? Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk. Or you can submit your videos and pictures here.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Follow Metro.co.uk on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news updates. You can now also get Metro.co.uk articles sent straight to your device. Sign up for our daily push alerts here.