Former British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday that the U.K. government has to learn to “live with COVID” as variants such as the Omicron continue to appear.

May and other senior Conservative MPs have criticized the current COVID response, saying “variants will continue to appear year after year” so “stopping and starting sectors of our economy” is not an effective long-term strategy to maintain the nation's safety and prevent its economy from collapsing.

“The early indications of Omicron are that it is more transmissible, but potentially leads to less serious illness than other variants. I understand that would be the normal progress of a virus,” May said. “When is the government going to accept that learning to live with COVID, which we will all have to do, means we will almost certainly have an annual vaccine and that we cannot respond to new variants by stopping and starting sectors of our economy which leads to businesses going under and jobs being lost?”

According to the Guardian, Conservative former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers also criticised the government’s decision to impose “new expensive requirements” for international travel, while former transport secretary Chris Grayling urged health secretary Sajid Javid to “face down the more conservative elements of the scientific community, do the right thing and keep the restrictions as minimal as possible.”

In the U.K., 76% of its population has at least one dose of the COVID vaccine while 70% are fully vaccinated.

Though vaccination is crucial in reducing the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19, it does not eliminate the chances of being infected with the virus.

There is community transmission of the Omicron coronavirus variant in multiple regions of England. There have been 336 confirmed cases of the variant across the U.K., a rise of 90 from Sunday.

Health officials remain uncertain whether this variant presents a different severity profile and whether it could escape protection against immunity induced by vaccines and previous infections.

As researchers learn more about the new variant, the World Health Organization announced that travel restrictions imposed by some countries may buy time to fight the new COVID-19 variant Omicron.

Following the news, the U.K. tightened travel rules, saying all travelers arriving in England will need to take a COVID-19 test before they board their flight.