New Covid restrictions announced (Omicron variant)

29 November 2021

Dear student,

We have all been concerned to hear that a new variant of Covid-19, Omicron, has entered the UK.

In response, the UK government has recently announced new restrictions to address the spread of the Omicron variant.

From tomorrow (Tuesday 30 November), face coverings will once again be made compulsory in shops and on public transport (including the BROOKESbus) - but pubs and restaurants are currently exempt.

In addition, all contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of whether or not they are fully vaccinated - they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

Everyone entering the UK (other than those coming from the Common Travel Area that covers the Channel Islands and Ireland) will have to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

The government has said that at present, the restrictions are viewed as a temporary measure and will be reviewed in three weeks. However, it is essential that steps are taken to restrict the spread of the new variant.

What do the new restrictions mean for me and what should I do?

We do not currently anticipate that any changes will be required to the delivery of your course, or to the way we use our campuses, accommodation or sports facilities. The measures we have in place to ensure that our campuses are Covid-secure were designed to protect against new developments such as this, and we would ask you to continue to follow them. We would also remind you that face coverings are required to be worn when indoors on campus, except where there is a valid reason for exemption. Our Campus Monitors will approach those who are not wearing a mask or a sunflower lanyard, and ask them to put on a mask. Please help our Brookes community by encouraging your fellow students to respond politely to any such request.

We will of course monitor the situation and take any additional precautions that we feel are necessary.

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. Free Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test kits are available from all campus receptions and testing twice a week will help identify if you are asymptomatic, and prevent transmission to others. Please report your results to the NHS and to the University.

International travel and advice for international students

The government has also recently announced that arrivals from 10 new red list countries will need to quarantine for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel, booked in advance.

We are also aware that some countries have already announced their intention to close their borders to foreign visitors.

We recognise that recent developments may be concerning to international students who are planning to travel over the coming weeks. If you are an international student and have any queries about how these developments may affect you, please contact the International Student Advice Team via isat@brookes.ac.uk.

Please continue to take care of yourself and each other.

If you have any questions, please contact the Covid response team.

Best wishes,

Brendan Casey

Registrar and Chief Operating Officer