Government Announces New COVID ‘Winter Plan’
The UK government have announced the new autumn and winter plan – Plan A and Plan B – to deal with the coronavirus in England. Plan A is being implemented to tackle rising cases as we head towards the winter months and in case the situation gets out of control, Plan B will be in place as our contingency.
Current restrictions in England are minimal; the rules include social distancing at 1 metre, masks are no longer compulsory but still recommended – though some businesses and transport operators still require them – and businesses are being encouraged to use the NHS COVID passes.
Under the government’s Plan A, booster jabs are to be offered to over 30 million people including the over 50s and young adults with health conditions. Vaccines will also now be offered to 12–15-year-olds and the unvaccinated will continue to be encouraged to get jabbed – there are currently around 5 million people eligible for the vaccine who have not yet had it. Additionally, the NHS Test and Trace system will continue being used, and PCR tests for those with symptoms will be free.
Should Plan A fail to keep infection rates down or the pressure off the NHS, then we would likely see the implementation of Plan B. This will include further restrictions such as face coverings being made compulsory, working from home being reintroduced and vaccine passports being made mandatory. The decision to transition to Plan B will be based on factors such as the number of hospitalisations, rapid changed in the rates of infections or deaths and the overall state of the NHS.
Plans A and B are for England only, with Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland developing their own COVID-19 rules and regulations.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he hoped the effectiveness of the UK’s vaccine programme will mean we can remain “one of the most free societies” in all of Europe, with only minimal restrictions in place to control the virus.
When asked under what circumstances England would see the move from Plan A to Plan B, Mr Johnson indicated the a number of factors would come into play. These would include the pressures facing hospitals, the current state of the virus, the rates of infections and deaths, the success of the vaccine roll-out and more. He did not, however, say how bad things would need to get before the move the Plan B would be made.
Mr Johnson said that plan B made use of “a number of different shots in the locker”, and that “You wouldn’t necessarily play them all at once, far from it, you would want to do things in a graduated way.”
The Prime Minister added, “Because so many of the population have some degree of immunity, smaller changes in the way we’re asking people to behave can have a bigger impact.”
He went on to say that this would “give us the confidence that we don’t have to go back to the lockdowns of the past.”
Let’s Sanitise It
Ultimately, Plan A is for us to rely on the effectiveness of our vaccine programme. The government wants to avoid reintroducing restrictions in England; this is an objective that those of us here at Let’s Sanitise It share and work hard to achieve. Let’s not find out how bad things need to get before Plan A turns into Plan B; let’s all do everything we can now to avoid the need for restrictions later.
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