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NATIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP: New measures to tackle Omicron variant AND UK engineers are drafted in to help fix Storm Arwen damage

 

Here is your latest national headlines roundup for today, including the new measures introduced to fight off the new variant of covid ahead of Christmas, one million homes and businesses thought to be damaged by Storm Arwen, and TSB announces branch closures as customers move to online services. 

NEW MEASURES: Measures to combat the new Omicron variant of coronavirus come into force on Tuesday as the Prime Minister said Covid-19 vaccines and boosters remain the best line of defence.

Face coverings are again compulsory in England in shops and settings such as banks, post offices, hairdressers, and public transport, while all travellers returning to the UK must take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is now advising that all adults aged 18 to 39 should be offered a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, in order of descending age groups, to increase their level of protection.

Those aged 40 and over are already eligible for a booster vaccine.

STORM ARWEN: Engineers have been drafted in from across the UK to help thousands of homes still without power following the destructive Storm Arwen.

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) said the number of UK homes powerless as of 5pm on Monday was 66,000, although around 1,000,000 homes and businesses are believed to have been damaged overall.

The worst-affected areas remain Scotland and north-east England, with engineers drafted in from Northern Ireland and southern England to help repair faults and “significant damage” to the network.

This comes as parts of the UK faced the coldest night of the autumn so far, including Shap in Cumbria, north-west England, which the Met Office said recorded the lowest temperature of the season so far at minus 8.7C (16.34F).

TSB CLOSURE: TSB has announced plans to close 70 branches next year as more customers switch to online banking.

TSB’s chief customer officer, Robin Bulloch, said: “Closing branches is an incredibly difficult decision to take, but we have to respond to the changes in the way people bank and provide the right mix of services for all our customers now and into the future.

“These changes allow us to maintain an extensive branch presence across the country.

“They are accompanied by a significant investment programme to upgrade branches to better suit customer needs.

“And, where it takes longer to get to the nearest branch, we will introduce more ‘pop-up’ services in communities.”

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