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NEWS: Measures for areas in England affected by coronavirus variant of concern

The government has set out measures to reduce the risk of a new coronavirus variant in England, particularly in those areas which have been identified as having confirmed cases of this variant.

The new variant (known as B.1.617.2 and first identified in India) is being carefully monitored by Public Health England which releases weekly updates on the number of confirmed new cases of variants of concern in the UK.

Education and childcare

The government is working closely with local authorities in the areas affected by the new variant. In line with this and the Contingency Framework for Education and Childcare, the use of face coverings in education will remain in place in Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Lancashire and Sefton. The situation will be kept under review in those areas and across the country.

There is further guidance available for anyone living in one of the areas affected by the new variant.

In those areas, people are advised to:

  • Meet outside rather than inside where possible
  • Try to keep 2 metres apart from people that you don’t live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them) - this includes friends and family you don’t live with
  • Get tested twice a week for free and isolate if you are positive
  • Continue to work from home if you can
  • Get vaccinated when you are offered it, and encourage others to do so as well
  • In addition, you should try to avoid travelling in and out of your local area unless it is essential, for example for work or education.

Getting tested for COVID-19

You should self-isolate immediately if you have symptoms or a positive test result for COVID-19.

Keeping yourself and others safe

As of today (17 May) England has moved to Step 3 of the government's roadmap out of lockdown meaning that restrictions have eased further. Everyone is advised to continue to exercise caution as restrictions lift. You should also follow the guidance on how to stop the spread of coronavirus at all times, including if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19.