People are now required by law to wear face masks in shops and public transport as a part of the government’s efforts to fight the new Omicron variant found in South Africa.
The new laws, that came into effect at 4am this morning, also include a stricter testing regime for international arrivals.
All international arrivals will need to take a PCR test by the second day after arriving and self-isolate until they get a negative result.
Number 10 said the face masks rule will apply to places like “banks, post offices and hairdressers”, however they are not mandated in many other settings like cinemas, theatres, pubs, restaurants or offices.
All the measures will be reviewed in three weeks’ time, while scientists assess how dangerous the Omicron variant is.
Early evidence suggests the variant could be more transmissible and that vaccines could be less effective against it.
“Based on everything we know, our vaccines and boosters remain our best line of defence, so it is more important than ever that people come forward when eligible to get boosted,” Boris Johnson said.
“Not only will today’s steps help us slow down the variant’s spread, but they will help us protect each other and the gains we have all worked so hard for.”
It comes as the government yesterday announced booster jabs would be made available for all over-18s and that the minimum gap between second and third doses will be cut to three months.