You will have seen news over the last few days of Omicron, the new Covid ‘variant of concern’, including confirmation of cases in the UK. There is much that we do not yet know about this variant, but we do know there are concrete steps we can take, both on campus and beyond, to reduce the risk of Covid transmission.
What UK Government rules have changed?
- Travel. More countries have been added to the UK Government’s red list over the weekend. Please check this list, and the rules in place, before making travel plans. Anyone entering the UK will need to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival; they will need to self-isolate until they have a negative result.
- Self-isolation. Contacts of suspected Omicron cases must isolate at home for 10 days if they're not fully vaccinated. Contacts who are fully vaccinated can choose to take daily LFD tests for seven days instead. NHS Test and Trace will call contacts to advise them.
- Face coverings. In England, face coverings will be required in shops and on public transport from tomorrow (Tuesday 30 November), although not in hospitality venues. This means wearing a face covering in our Fresh and The Market shops, and on buses to and from campus becomes mandatory, unless you’re exempt.
What do we need to do as a University community?
- Wear your face covering. Please remember to wear your face coverings indoors when moving around buildings. This includes in the STV unless training, and in our cafes when queuing or moving around, but not while seated to eat or drink. We all want to keep teaching and extra-curricular activities running, both before and after the winter break, and wearing face coverings is a simple action you can take to help make this possible. If you are asked to wear a face covering, by a staff member or fellow student, please do so.
- Test and test again. We have all read about the significant number of people who have contracted Covid but without getting symptoms. This means that it’s crucial to keep taking lateral flow diagnostic (LFD) tests, at least twice a week, particularly when you’re coming to work in University buildings, and before going to events indoors. We have tried to make this as easy as possible – you can pick up your test packs at four sites on campus. It takes a matter of minutes to test. Some have found it helpful to set up reminders on their phones or calendars. It’s an easy and practical step we can all take to prevent putting our community at risk. If you are travelling elsewhere for the winter break, please pick up a box of LFD tests and take one before you travel and remember to test again before you return to Bath. If you are travelling overseas, you will need to follow the prevailing testing and quarantine rules both in the UK and in your destination country.
- Coronavirus symptoms. If you have coronavirus symptoms, or are self-isolating, you must not come to campus, to University buildings or events. Please follow the quick guide for students about when to test and when to self-isolate. Find out how to get a free NHS PCR test to check if you have coronavirus. Please let us know if you are self-isolating by completing this quick online form.
- Get your vaccinations, and your booster when eligible. Getting fully vaccinated gives you the best protection against coronavirus (Covid-19). We encourage all members of our student and staff community to get vaccinated as soon as possible, in line with World Health Organisation and UK Government advice. The NHS is currently offering booster vaccinations to those over 30, or those over 16 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk from Covid-19, and who had their second dose three months (91 days) ago. However, the eligibility criteria for boosters may be extended, so keep checking for updates.
- Look after our University and Bath community. Please be aware that we have people in our local community, both on campus and in the city, who have underlying health conditions, or with family members who do. These safety measures are about protecting ourselves, but they are also about safeguarding other people from illness and harm. We urge you to take them seriously.
Thank you to you all for continuing to do the University proud in these challenging circumstances.