Covid: Scots urged to limit socialising and West End shows hit by outbreaks

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Here are five things you need to know about the pandemic this Tuesday evening. We'll have another update for you tomorrow morning.

1. Scots urged to limit socialising to three households

People in Scotland have been advised to reduce the amount of socialising they do with others in the run-up to Christmas, and immediately after, to limit the spread of the Omicron variant. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the advice to limit contacts to three households at a time wouldn't apply on Christmas Day itself though and that there was no need for people to cancel plans. Festive celebrations should be kept "as small as your family circumstances allow", she said. Shops, restaurants and bars are being told to bring back screens and physical distancing measures.

Image source, Getty Images

2. MPs debate Covid rules ahead of vote later

MPs are preparing to vote on new coronavirus rules for England. The measures include the issue of Covid passports, which would require people to show proof of vaccination - or a negative lateral flow test - to enter some venues. Despite some opposition from the backbenches, the plans - which also include compulsory face masks in some settings and new rules on self-isolation, are expected to pass. You can follow the vote as it happens on our live page.

Image source, Hoc
Image caption,
The health secretary opened the debate in the Commons

3. All countries being taken off red list

All 11 countries currently on the UK's red list for travel are being removed from it at 04:00 GMT on Wednesday, meaning arrivals from those countries will no longer have to go to a quarantine hotel. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that Omicron was so widespread that the rules didn't have a purpose any more. Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are the countries making up the list. Mr Javid has asked for advice about whether those already self-isolating in hotels would be able to leave early and if people would be reimbursed for their costs.

Image source, PA Media

4. High demand blamed for PCR appointment shortage

There was a temporary lack of in-person PCR tests in England on Tuesday. While home testing kits were still available, the official UK booking website briefly showed no appointments available anywhere in England. The UK Health Security Agency said that was because of exceptionally high demand. More time slots have now been released. Anyone who has Covid symptoms, or has done a positive lateral flow test, should take a PCR test - either at home or at a test centre.

Image source, Reuters

5. West End shows hit by outbreaks

Some West End theatres have had to cancel shows because of Covid outbreaks among the cast and crew. The Lion King called off shows on Tuesday and Wednesday, while the Life of Pi pulled five shows from 9 to 13 December. All performances of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Comedy of Errors at London's Barbican have been called off until 22 December and the National Theatre had to cancel its preview of Christmas show Hex on Monday after one of the lead actors caught Covid.

Image source, Brinkhoff-Moegenburg
Image caption,
Hex, based on Sleeping Beauty, will now open on 21 December

And don't forget...

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

Confused about whether you should isolate if you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive? Remind yourself of the rules.

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