Coronavirus latest news: Don’t socialise unless necessary to slow omicron variant, urges Dr Jenny Harries

Dr Jenny Harries, the current head of NHS Test and Trace, has told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that people can do their bit to reduce the spread of the new omicron variant by reducing the number of social contacts they have.

She said that even if our “vaccines appear to be effective, but we find that the variant is more highly transmissible…(it) could still be a significant impact on our hospitals.”

“And of course, our behaviours in winter and particularly around Christmas we tend to socialise more so I think all of those will need to be taken into account.”

“So I think being careful, not socialising when we don’t particularly need to and particularly going and getting those booster jobs which, of course, people will now be able to have at a three-month interval from their primary course.”

It comes as face masks are now legally required in hairdressers in the UK after the Government extended list of settings at which they will be mandatory.

Guidance published on Monday night said coverings would be needed in personal care and beauty salons, as well as tattoo parlours. They will also be required at takeaways, estate agents, solicitors, loan providers and veterinary clinics and in taxis, private hire vehicles and driving instruction cars or vans. 

The rules, which came into force from 4am on Tuesday, will be reviewed in three weeks. Non-compliance will be punishable with a fine of £200 for a first offence, which will double on each subsequent offence up to a maximum of £6,400.

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