New Covid restrictions announced for England

9 December 2021

Dear student,

Yesterday evening (8 December), the Prime Minister announced that England will move to ‘Plan B’ following the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the UK. The announcement means that a range of new Covid restrictions will be introduced. We have provided further information on these below.

The government has now confirmed to Universities that they should continue to deliver all face-to-face teaching and research activities as planned. Therefore, there will be no changes to the delivery of your course, including exams taking place in the week of 13 - 17 December. The measures we have in place to ensure that our campuses are Covid-secure were designed to protect all campus users, and we remain confident in them. If any changes to our campuses or services are required, we will write to you again. We will of course continue to watch the situation and take any additional precautions that are necessary.

To confirm, exams scheduled for the week of 13 - 17 December will go ahead, in person, as planned. We have already built Covid safety into the planning of these exams, including spacing between desks, regular sanitising of desks and equipment, ventilation of rooms, and gloves used for the handling of papers by invigilators. Registers and room plans will be held by the University’s Covid Response Team should any contact tracing be required. If you are unable to attend your exam due to self-isolation, illness, or any other unavoidable reason, you can apply for Exceptional Circumstances by following the process for examined event assessments.

What are the new restrictions that have been announced?

  • From tomorrow (Friday 10 December), face coverings will become compulsory in most public indoor venues, such as cinemas, theatres and places of worship. There will be exemptions in venues where it is not practical to wear one, such as when you are eating, drinking or exercising. For that reason, face masks will not be required in hospitality settings.
  • From Monday 13 December, those who can will be advised to work from home.
  • From Wednesday 15 December (subject to parliamentary approval) the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App will become mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather. You will be able to demonstrate proof of two vaccine doses via the app; proof of a negative lateral flow test or medical exemption will also be accepted.
  • Everyone should test using a lateral flow device, particularly before entering a high-risk setting involving people you wouldn’t normally come into contact with, or when visiting a vulnerable person. Lateral flow devices remain free of charge and can be collected from local pharmacies as well as all of our campuses (see below for further information).
  • All individuals who have been identified as a close contact of a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, irrespective of vaccination status and age, will be contacted directly and required to self-isolate immediately and asked to book a PCR test.

The government has said that it will review the new regulations after three weeks.

Protecting yourself and others - a reminder

Face coverings are mandatory whilst indoors on campus and on all public transport, including the BROOKESbus, except where there is a valid reason for exemption.

If you are eligible for a vaccination or booster, you are strongly encouraged to take up this offer, bookings can be made through the NHS Booking website.

Please continue to use lateral flow tests twice-weekly to help stop the spread of Covid-19, and particularly before entering a high risk setting involving people you wouldn’t normally come into contact with, or when visiting a vulnerable person. Free test kits are available from collection points at all of our campuses - locations and opening times are on our Covid-19 testing webpage. Please report your results to the NHS and to the University. If you get a positive rapid (lateral flow) test result, please book a PCR test within two days of the positive rapid test result to confirm if you have Covid-19.

The Government is encouraging all students to take two lateral flow tests before they travel home for Christmas at the end of the semester. You should also test again before returning to campus in January. Full details are on the Covid-19 testing webpage.

If you have symptoms of Covid-19 you should:

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Covid response team. Please stay safe and take care of each other.

Best wishes,

Brendan Casey

Registrar and Chief Operating Officer