Secondary school and college pupils will be required to wear face masks in communal areas outside of their classrooms in areas of the south west of England in response to a surge in coronavirus cases.
Starting Friday, Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay local authority areas - which have seen an uptick in cases - will get help to increase vaccine and testing and deliver more public health messaging, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
Although schools will resume from next week as planned, students in secondary schools and colleges will need to wear face masks in communal areas after the guidance was scrapped on July 19.
The new measures are expected to be in place for five weeks, with the impact monitored.
The new guidance comes after new figures showed growing numbers of local areas - including in the South West - were recording their highest rates of new cases of coronavirus since comparable records began.
The return of schools, a bank holiday weekend about to begin in all nations except Scotland, and a busy calendar of sport and music events likely to attract large crowds are all feared to be events that could push rates higher.
Professor Mike Wade, deputy regional director and NHS regional director of public health for Public Health England South West, said: “The announcement that parts of the South West are entering an Enhanced Response Area (ERA) is a reminder that Covid has not gone away.”
“There are no additional restrictions on the areas receiving additional support or for residents or visitors,” Prof. Wade said.
“We are working with partners and our Local Authority Directors of Public Health to deliver some additional support to these areas which we hope will amplify the excellent work that is already taking place and allow them more flexibility to introduce additional public health measures if necessary. ”
Prof. Wade urged people to exercise more caution and protect themselves and others.
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