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UK turns to COVID “Plan B” rules to contain Omicron



Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the government will adopt new COVID rules, turning to “Plan B” to manage the new Omicron strain of the virus

Under the new Plan B rules, people in England are being asked to work from home again if possible and face masks will be compulsory in most public places, as part of new rules to limit the spread of Omicron.

The Prime Minister also announced that vaccine passports will also be needed to get into nightclubs and large venues from next week.

Boris Johnson announced the government was moving to its back-up plan of extra Covid rules at a news conference.

Police officers stand guard during an anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protest, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, outside Downing Street, London, Britain, June 14, 2021. / Image: File

“It’s not a lockdown, it’s Plan B,”

Johnson says that moving to the tougher measures was the “proportionate and responsible” thing to do, but insisted it would not become a lockdown.

The PM stated that much more is still being learned about new variant Omicron, including from the World Health Organization and the picture surrounding the variant might get better, but that it “could lead to a big rise in hospitalisations and therefore sadly in deaths”.

Under the new rules, face masks will be required in more public settings – including theatres and cinemas – from Friday, and from Monday, people will be asked to work from home where possible.

The NHS Covid Pass will also be required for visitors to nightclubs, indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any event with more than 10,000 people from next Wednesday.

Highest day since July: UK COVID cases causing major concern
Johnson urges booster program to ramp up / Image: File

Will Christmas be cancelled?

But Mr Johnson said Christmas parties and nativity plays should still go ahead – as long as the guidance is followed.

Many of the questions the PM faced centred on the row over the Downing Street Christmas party at the height of lockdown rules last December.

Government adviser Allegra Stratton – who was seen with other No 10 staff joking about the party in a leaked video from last year – resigned just before the news conference, saying she would always regret her remarks.

Earlier Mr Johnson apologised in the Commons for this video, although he said that he had been repeatedly told there had been no party. The Metropolitan Police has now said they will not investigate the issue, due to lack of evidence.

According to British media, when Johnson was questioned at the news conference regarding if the Plan B announcement was timed to divert attention from the Christmas party, the prime minister denied that was the case. Instead, the PM went on saying the government did not want to delay bringing in the rules which were important to protect public health.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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Ukraine’s bold counteroffensive dreams shattered: Security official



The ambitious hopes of a Ukrainian counteroffensive have failed to materialize as anticipated, according to a high-ranking security official.

The nation had been eagerly anticipating a resurgence in their military operations to reclaim lost territories, but the recent turn of events has cast a shadow of uncertainty.

The security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed that despite meticulous planning and intense preparations, the counteroffensive has encountered unforeseen challenges, pushing back the timeline for its execution.

This setback has left Ukrainian citizens anxious, hoping for a swift resolution to the ongoing conflict that has plagued their country for far too long.

The disappointment in Ukraine’s counteroffensive ambitions raises crucial questions about the nation’s military strategy, the level of external support, and the overall stability of the region.

The international community watches with bated breath as Ukraine navigates this critical juncture, wondering what the future holds for this war-torn nation.

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Zara pulls ad over Gaza boycott uproar



Fashion giant Zara has withdrawn one of its advertisements from the front page of its website after facing calls for a boycott over its alleged insensitivity to the situation in Gaza.

The controversy erupted when Zara featured an ad showcasing its latest collection on its website’s front page, coinciding with a period of heightened tensions in the Gaza Strip. Critics argued that the timing was inappropriate, given the ongoing conflict and suffering in the region.

Social media campaigns and online petitions quickly gained traction, with thousands of people expressing their disapproval and calling for a boycott of Zara products. The hashtag #BoycottZara trended on various platforms, putting immense pressure on the clothing retailer.

In response, Zara issued a statement announcing the removal of the controversial ad. The company expressed regret over any offense caused and reaffirmed its commitment to corporate responsibility.

However, this incident has sparked a broader debate about the intersection of fashion and political sensitivity in an increasingly interconnected world.

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BTS stars take a break to serve military time



The world-renowned South Korean megaband BTS has announced an indefinite hiatus, with all seven members set to fulfil their mandatory military service obligations.

The news has sent shockwaves through the global entertainment industry and left fans wondering what the future holds for the chart-topping group.

This decision comes after the septet’s unprecedented rise to fame, conquering international music charts, and amassing a dedicated fan base known as the ARMY.

The group’s management agency, Big Hit Entertainment, released a statement confirming that the hiatus is aimed at allowing each member to complete their military service without interruption. This move is seen as a testament to their commitment to fulfilling their civic duties despite their immense success.

While BTS fans are undoubtedly disappointed by the hiatus, it raises intriguing questions about the group’s future. Will their time away from the spotlight allow them to explore new musical directions?

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