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(Updated January 21)

England to return to Plan A following the success of the booster programme

The Government has announced that the Plan B restrictions previously in place are now being lifted. As a result, and as from 19 January people will no longer be advised to work from home if they can. People should speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office and should follow the Working Safely guidance.
In addition, face coverings are no longer be advised in classrooms for both staff and pupils.
From Thursday 27 January:
  • Venues and events will no longer be required by law to use the NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass can still be used on a voluntary basis as was previously the case in Plan A
  • Face coverings are no longer required by law in any setting. Public health guidance will remain in place, suggesting individuals should continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • The Department for Education will remove national guidance on the use of face coverings in communal areas, with local directors of public health able to recommend the use of face coverings in education settings across their area only where the department and public health experts judge the measure to be proportionate due to specific health concerns. This is a temporary measure and directors of public health continue to advise individual settings experiencing outbreaks
  • Any local introduction of face coverings must be subject to routine review and removed at the earliest opportunity.
The Government and the UKHSA are, however, continuing to urge people to take Lateral Flow Tests regularly and for all those eligible to come forward for their vaccinations and vaccine boosters.

(Updated January 11)

Omicron Hospitality and Leisure grants

The government announced on 21 December 2021 a new grant scheme for hospitality and leisure businesses affected by the Omicron variant. A new application will be required for this grant payment. 
Eligibility criteria:
  • businesses must have been trading as of 30 December 2021
  • businesses must be rated for business rates
  • businesses must not be in liquidation, dissolved, struck off or subject to a striking-off notice or under notice
  • business premises must be occupied as of 30 December 2021, void premises are not eligible for the grants
  • grants will be paid to the rate payer as of 30 December 2021
  • the primary principle of the Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant scheme is to support businesses that offer in-person services, where the main service and activity takes place in a fixed rate-paying premises, in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors.
  • businesses must not have hit the maximum grants subsidy allowances.

Apply for an Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant here. Closing date for applications is 18 March 2022.

Please note that the Government has confirmed that gyms, sports businesses, hairdressers, beauticians and takeaways are EXCLUDED from this scheme.

(Updated January 7, 2022)

From the 11 January , this guidance applies to ENGLAND

If you get a positive rapid lateral flow test result, most people will not need to take a PCR test to confirm the result. You must self-isolate immediately if you get a positive rapid lateral flow test result.

From 9 January , this guidance applies to ENGLAND

From 4am on 9 January, if you qualify as fully vaccinated, you can take either a rapid lateral flow or PCR test within 2 days of arriving in England. If you have a positive result on the rapid lateral flow test, you must take a PCR test.

From 7 January , this guidance applies to ENGLAND

From 4am on 7 January, if you qualify as fully vaccinated or are under 18, you do not need to take a PCR test before you travel to England or self-isolate when you arrive.

From 4 January , this guidance applies to ENGLAND

Face coverings are recommended in schools with pupils in year 7 and above. They should be worn in most classrooms, and by pupils, students, staff and adult visitors when moving around buildings.

More information can be found here: Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support - GOV.UK (

Further updates:
The whole NHS is working at record speed to meet this new national mission to turbo-charge the COVID-19 booster programme and protect communities against the new Omicron variant, as well as being there for those who need care urgently. 
Over 112 million Covid-19 vaccinations have taken place so far, including over 28 million boosters, and over 2 million appointments available over the next 7 days, on top of those available locally, we continue to urge those who are eligible to come forward and get boosted now.
While the NHS is prioritising booster the country’s immunity, services are still there for those who need them urgently. The public can help NHS staff be there for those patients who need them most by getting their COVID and flu jabs if they are eligible, and by using the free, 24/7 NHS 111 online or phone service for urgent health issues.  
(Updated January 6, 2022)
Major incident declared in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent

The latest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Staffordshire has prompted the public and emergency services to declare a major incident.

Staffordshire Resilience Forum (SRF) is made up of multiple agencies such as the NHS, Fire and Rescue Service, Police, Local Authorities and others who work together to plan and prepare for localised incidents and civil emergencies.

The recent surge in Coronavirus cases related to the Omicron variant has led to today’s decision, the third time since the beginning of the pandemic that a major incident has been declared, and allows enhanced multi-agency activity and co-ordination.

The objectives of the SRF are to protect life, especially vulnerable people; minimise the impact of the pandemic and control measures on wider society and the economy; maintain public trust and confidence; and support Business Continuity for all partners, in particular for the NHS and social care. 

Dr Richard Harling, the Director for Health and Care at Staffordshire County Council is chairing the Strategic Coordinating Group, which is overseeing the multi-agency response.

He said: “Everyone is now aware that the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and the pressure this is causing on our services, particularly with key workers needing to isolate.

“Declaring a major incident once more is a sensible step. All public sector agencies and our partners are already working together in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to anticipate and deal with challenges. Declaring a Major Incident will make sure that we are able to share resources where necessary which will be important as we expect that more staff may need to self-isolate.

“Working together is something that we do all the time and the action we are now taking is simply aimed at making that process even more joined-up.”

“It is important that people continue their efforts to limit the spread and impact of the virus; get vaccinated including a booster dose, work from home if you can, avoid crowded indoor public spaces, wear face coverings where required and use health and care services responsibly.”

(Updated December 9)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP has announced the introduction of further Covid-19 measures in response to the concerns surrounding the ‘Omicron’ variant of the Coronavirus.

The main measures being implemented are as follows:

  • From Friday 10 December, face coverings will be mandatory for many indoor public venues including theatres and cinemas, as well as in shops and on public transport. Exceptions will be made for singing, exercise, and hospitality settings.
  • From Monday 13 December, people should work from home "if they can".
  • From Wednesday 15 December people will need to show their NHS Covid Pass - or a negative lateral flow test - to gain entry to:
  • Nightclubs
  • Indoor seated venues with more than 500 people
  • Unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people
  • Any venue with more than 10,000 people
  • In addition to the above, daily testing will be introduced to replace self-isolation for contacts of Omicron cases

These measures for England are in addition to the following advice, guidance and restrictions already in place:

Staffordshire Situation: Omicron

  • In the West Midlands UKHSA continue to work to manage the emergence of Omicron cases in the region.
  • There are currently two confirmed cases in Staffordshire – one resident from Newcastle and one from Lichfield. There are also a small number of cases where people are likely to have the Omicron variant.
  • While the numbers are currently low we are expecting these to start to rise in the coming days and week, as the Omicron variant is thought to be more transmissible.
  • UKHSA is now publishing the number of Omicron cases and likely cases by LA area


The booster campaign is being stepped up:

  • Booster jabs will be offered to all over-18s
  • The gap between second dose and booster will be reduced to three months from six
  • People with weakened immune systems will be offered a fourth dose - as a booster - no sooner than three months after their third
  • Children aged 12 to 15 will be invited for a second dose, three months after their first
  • Vulnerable people will be contacted first, followed by older age groups, then younger ones.
  • Every eligible person in England and Scotland should be able to book their booster by the end of January - although some may be given at a later date.
  • In England, jabs will be rolled out at 1,500 community pharmacy sites and extra hospital hubs.

(Updated October 22)

Parents will be able to book covid-19 vaccinations online for their 12-15 year old children from the end of today (Friday) with appointments available as soon as tomorrow, the NHS has announced. 
People will be able to go online and check the National Booking Service to see if their local site has appointments to vaccinate children and young people, as the NHS covid-19 vaccination programme continues at pace.

NHS issues plea for people in the Midlands to stay safe and get the COVID booster vaccine 

People in the Midlands who are eligible for the COVID-19 booster vaccine are being urged to stay safe and book a jab as soon as possible. The booster vaccine is offered to those eligible who had their second dose of the COVID vaccination six months ago as protection will have deteriorated.
Appointments can be booked quickly and conveniently at People that can’t go online can book by phoning 119.
The NHS kicked off the booster programme on 16 September, within two days of updated advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Over 765,000 booster doses have been given so far in the Midlands.

(Updated September 13)

Details of walk-in vaccination clinics within the region can be found on the Together We're Better Walk-in vaccination clinics webpage. New sites are added as they become available.