I SUPPOSE if you are going to have a mutant virus, giving it a sinister-sounding name such as Omicron seems apt somehow.

What has surprised me though is the speed at which the Government moved to bring in new restrictions.

I suppose Boris Johnson wanted to be seen to actually be doing something after criticism in the past that his actions during the pandemic have been too little and too late.

So what’s my take? Well to be honest, I think the measures introduced on Tuesday were just a little half-hearted if what the Government is trying to do is slow down the spread of the Omicron Covid virus while we see if it’s more transmissible, more virulent and better able to dodge vaccine immunity.

This is a 21st century virus. The new variant was probably halfway round the world before anyone was aware of its existence.

But I suppose the Government has got to try to do something, so the travel ban from southern African countries, coupled with day two PCR testing and mandatory quarantining of Omicron contacts is at least a reasonable move. But what of mandatory mask wearing?

I’m more than happy that face coverings must now be worn in shops and on public transport.

I’m not sure, however, that goes far enough if we are being really serious about slowing down the spread of the mutant virus.

As it stands, there are no regulations insisting on the wearing of masks in hospitality venues, pubs and bars.

Sorry, that doesn’t make sense.

The virus isn’t going to wander down the high street, popping into shops but then deciding to give pubs a miss. At the very least, socalled vaccine passports should have been made a condition of entry for pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues.

The simple fact is Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and other members of the Government have set an absolutely terrible example for the country.

Rees-Mogg, for example, stood up and said a ‘convivial fraternal spirit’ meant the Conservatives did not need to wear masks in the House of Commons because: “We on this side know each other.”

Yes, that would be the special Tory virus that doesn’t jump from friend to friend, from family member to family member, or from Tory MP to Tory MP. The arrogance is staggering.

And pictures of Boris Johnson without a mask in places where he should have been wearing one now include on public transport, at COP26, in a theatre and most shockingly of all in a hospital.

With leaders such as this, is it any wonder ordinary people are following their example?

And yet it doesn’t have to be like that.

Last week, we nipped out to do a bit of late-night shopping. First up, we called in at Next on Gemini Retail Park and thankfully it was very quiet.

Just as well really as not a single person was wearing a mask.

It was a different story over the road in the Marks and Spencer food hall where virtually all the customers were masked.

I’m still trying to work out what the difference is between Next and Marks customers.

And that’s why the decision on mask wearing can’t just be left to people’s common sense, as we have plenty of evidence that’s a commodity in extremely short supply at the moment.

Of course, the one step the Government could have taken to limit the spread of Omicron, or any other variant, is to require people to work from home if they can but for some reason that is seen as a step too far.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Omicron goes the same way as the Beta variant that threatened to be really dangerous but faded away as Delta took over.

In any event, I don’t trust the Government to keep me and my family safe with its half-hearted measures and the number of daily cases and deaths provide enough evidence it has lost control of the pandemic.

Let’s hope we can see a little more common sense in the future. I fear we are going to need it.