Somerset’s Public Health Director encourages sensible precautions as the Government moves to ‘Plan B’

Health leaders in Somerset are urging everyone to continue taking sensible precautions and follow national guidance as the Government begins to move to ‘Plan B’ Covid restrictions. 

As we begin to see Omicron spread through regions of the UK, early concerns are being raised about the pressure on NHS services. The focus on vaccination as the primary way we can protect ourselves and our NHS remains clearer than ever, and Somerset County Council’s Public Health leaders are reminding anyone who is yet to receive their first dose, second dose, or booster to step forward when invited. Please check your eligibility and book online before walking into a vaccination centre. 

In addition to ramping up the booster programme to ensure access for all over 18s by the end of January, the Prime Minister announced the following new measures as part of ‘Plan B’: 

  • From Monday 13 December, those who can, will be advised to work from home. 
  • From today (Friday 10 December), the legal requirement to wear a face mask will be extended to most public indoor venues, including theatres and cinemas. 
  • From Wednesday 15 December, and subject to parliamentary approval, the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App will become mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather. 
  • People will be able to demonstrate proof of two vaccine doses via the app. A negative lateral flow test will also be accepted. 
  • At a date to be determined daily contact testing of Contacts will replace Self Isolation for Omicron contacts. 

Professor Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health for Somerset County Council, said:  “While the emergence of a new Covid variant was expected, the scientific community is working urgently to understand the impact of Omicron with regards to vaccines, treatments and transmissibility.   

“We continue to work closely with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and regional partners to provide public health advice and support to people who have been identified as close contacts of cases of Omicron. UKHSA is the lead agency for responding to cases of Omicron Covid19. The global community is still learning about this new variant and its potential impacts. 

Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council member for Health and Wellbeing said: “It is more important than ever that everyone continues to take sensible precautions and follow the national measures that are in place.  

“That means washing hands regularly, wearing face coverings when required, taking lateral flow tests before a period of high risk such as visiting a family member or attending an event, getting both doses of your vaccine, and booking your booster when you are able. If you have any symptoms of Covid, you should self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test.” 

Covid-19 continues to pose challenges to our community both here in the South-West and across the UK, making it as important as ever that we look after our mental and physical health.  Mindline Somerset is a confidential listening service, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their volunteers offer a friendly ear, and can provide help or support with emotional health and wellbeing. The number to call is 01823 276 892. In addition, Healthy Somerset is a website full of ideas on how to stay healthy, happy and safe while at home. 

For self-isolation support, please contact our Coronavirus Helpline on 0300 790 6275. The helpline is open from 8am to 6 pm every day, including weekends. 


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