With just weeks to go until Christmas, the U.K. is almost repeating what happened in 2020 and tightening COVID-19 restrictions, this time in response to the rising omicron variant.
On Wednesday Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he was implementing what he called “Plan B,” which included the reintroduction of the enforcement of face mask wearing in venues including cinemas and theaters. Johnson also said that, from Friday, COVID-19 passes showing vaccination statuses would be required for entry into nightclubs and larger venues, including unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, and once again encouraging people to work from home.
The news comes as rates of Omicron sharply rise across the U.K., where there are currently 568 known cases, although Johnson acknowledged the real figure was likely much higher.
The U.K. is currently stepping up its drive of the COVID-19 booster or third vaccine dose.
The country’s live music industry, which has struggled with sporadic lockdowns for nearly two years, called the new restrictions unfair.
“The introduction of Plan B results in an unfair double standard that allows people to go on all-day pub crawls in crowded bars without having to prove their COVID-19 status, whilst live music venues get hit with certification,” Greg Parmley, the CEO of LIVE, said in a statement.
“After such a prolonged closure throughout the pandemic it is important the industry is able to remain open and that the government have listened to the industry and included the use of lateral flow testing in COVID certification,” he said.
Wednesday’s announcement came amid chaos within the British government over a Christmas party reportedly held at 10 Downing Street during lockdown last year. Following a leaked video showing aides appearing to make light of the party, Johnson’s strategist Allegra Stratton stood down and there have been calls from several politicians for Johnson to follow suit.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.
Update Dec. 8, 2021, at 4:49 pm EST: This article was updated to include a statement from the group LIVE.