Omicron variant: New measures for hospitality announced

New measures have been put in place in England as a precaution against the Omicron variant.

The changes apply to self-isolation, testing after international travel, and face coverings, which apply from 4am on Tuesday 30th November.

Contacts of individuals with a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant, must self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status.

For more details on how we will affect the hospitality industry, see below:

Takeaway services

Staff and customers must wear a face covering in takeaways where there is no space for consumption of food or drink on the premises.

Find more information on when and where to wear face coverings

Takeaway services must display signage or take other measures to ensure customers are aware of the obligation to wear a face covering where there is no applicable exemption.

To remind people to wear a face covering, you can display the poster below:

Other hospitality venues

Face coverings are not required in hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants and pubs, and nightclubs. Face coverings are also not required in any venue, or part of a venue, that is being used wholly or mainly for eating and drinking.

In other indoor settings where a face covering is not legally required, people should wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed settings where they come into contact with people they do not normally meet.

Where worn correctly, this may reduce the risk of transmission to themselves and others. Be aware that workers may choose to wear a face covering in the workplace.

Businesses can encourage customers, visitors or workers to wear a face covering. Consider encouraging, for example through signage, the use of face coverings by customers and workers, particularly in indoor areas where they may come into contact with people they do not normally meet. This is especially important in enclosed and crowded spaces.

When deciding your approach to face coverings, you need to consider the reasonable adjustments for staff and clients with disabilities. You also need to consider carefully how this fits with other obligations to workers and customers arising from the law on employment rights, health and safety and equality legislation.

Be aware that face coverings may make it harder to communicate with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.

Face coverings for staff

Face coverings must be worn by staff in takeaway services where there is no space for the consumption of food or drink. This applies to any indoor area that is open to the public and where they are likely to come into contact with a member of the public.

Face coverings are not required in other hospitality settings.

If your workers choose to wear a face covering, or if they are required to, you should support them in using face coverings safely. This means telling them:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and before and after removing it
  • when wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
  • change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
  • continue to wash your hands regularly
  • change or wash your face covering daily
  • if the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions; if it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste

People who are not able to wear a face covering

Some people are exempt from having to wear face coverings in any setting. This includes:

  • children aged under 11
  • emergency service workers
  • people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability

They do not need to show any written evidence of this, and do not need to show an exemption card (though they may choose to do so).

Find out more about face covering exemptions.

Tests required for travel to England 

this guidance applies to ENGLAND

From 4am on Tuesday 7 December anyone aged 12 and over must show a negative PCR or lateral flow test result before travelling to England from abroad. You must take the test in the 2 days before you travel to England.

You must also take a PCR test within 2 days of arriving and self-isolate until you get a negative test result, even if you’re fully vaccinated. Check what you need to do to travel to England from another country.

Changes to the red list for international travel

this guidance applies to ENGLAND

Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia have all moved to the travel red list. You can only enter England from these countries if you are a UK or Irish resident. You must quarantine in a managed hotel on arrival and take 2 COVID-19 tests.

New rules on face coverings and self-isolation

this guidance applies to ENGLAND

You must wear a face covering in shops and on public transport. Face coverings should be worn in communal areas of universities, colleges and schools by staff, visitors and pupils or students in year 7 and above.

If you’re a contact of someone who may have been infected with the Omicron variant, you must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of your age, vaccination status or any negative test results.

Booster vaccines

this guidance applies to ENGLAND

People aged 40 to 49 can now get a booster vaccine 6 months after their second dose. Book your vaccination appointment online or find a walk-in clinic. The NHS will contact you when you are eligible to book your booster dose.


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