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Residents urged to play their part to mitigate the risk of new COVID-19 variant

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WILTSHIRE Council is asking Melksham residents to keep playing their part to protect each other, as national measures are introduced to mitigate the risk of the COVID-19 variant, Omicron.  

People are now required to wear face coverings in shops and public transport, as well as banks, post offices and hairdressers. 

The Department for Education (DfE) has informed schools that face coverings should be worn in communal areas in all settings by staff, visitors and pupils or students in year 7 and above, unless they are exempt.  Pupils or students (in year 7 or above) should continue to wear face coverings on public and dedicated school transport, unless they are exempt. As they did before the previous half-term break, the council, together with the South West Directors of Public Health, UK Health Security Agency and the South West Schools Commissioner, have jointly agreed the additional advice and action set out for schools who have met the DfE threshold should be kept in place until the end of term, and these will be reviewed in January 2022.  

The council has also sent schools and education settings some handy advice and guidance to help with their Christmas and seasonal events, so that they can continue as safely as possible.   

All travellers arriving into the country will also be required to take a PCR test on or before day two and self-isolate until they have received a negative test result. The PCR tests can be purchased from private providers – free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose. 

The government has also confirmed that close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the Omicron variant are required to isolate for 10 days regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.  

As a result of the new variant, the government’s red travel list has also been updated. People should visit www.gov.uk/guidance/red-list-of-countries-and-territories for the latest information.  

Kate Blackburn, Director of Public Health, said: “This is a fast-moving situation and I’d urge people to follow the latest requirements to help reduce the risk of the Omicron variant in Wiltshire.  

“I know that talk and headlines of the variant might be causing some concern and anxiety, but if everyone follows the measures and ensures they are doing what they can to look out for each other then we can mitigate its risk. 

“It’s a new variant, but the simple measures we’ve all been taking throughout this pandemic are still important – washing hands regularly, wearing face coverings where required, taking lateral flow tests regularly, getting vaccinated and the booster, and self-isolating and getting a PCR test when displaying any symptoms.  

“People can be assured that health teams and scientists throughout the world will be working around the clock to ensure they know everything about this new variant to help keep people as safe as possible.” 

The latest COVID-19 information from government can be found at www. gov.uk/coronavirus.  

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