Covid Plan B Restrictions Announced for England
BORIS JOHNSON'S COVID ANNOUNCEMENT
Yesterday, Wednesday 8th of December saw an update from Boris Johnson regarding the Covid situation in England. The announcement has come amid allegations that his own staff broke the rules by having a party last Christmas at Downing Street. The PM has stated that it would now be “Proportionate” and “responsible” to move to Plan B in England.
A vote on the new rules is set for next week.
The changes are being implemented as a result of the rise of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19. Cases are reportedly doubling every 2-3 days. According to the UK health security agency, at the current rate, Omicron is set to become the dominant variant in the UK in the coming weeks.
There have currently only been 568 confirmed cases of the variant. However, health secretary Sajid Javed has said the true number may be much higher. There could be as many as 10,000 cases already in the UK he warns, which could exceed 1 million by the end of the month.
WHAT ARE THE NEW COVID RESTRICTIONS?
Working from home
As with the previous occasions, people will be asked to work from home where it is possible. The government has advised that you should only be going in to work if they must. Employers should take steps where possible to ensure that their employees can work from home safely. Businesses have a legal duty to manage Covid risks for both their employees and their customers.
An NHS Covid pass will be required for entry to nightclubs, unseated indoor venues with over 500 people, outdoor unseated venues with over 4000 people, and any event with more than 10,000 people attending.
New Face mask rules
Face masks will be required in more public areas once the rules come into force. Currently they are only required on public transport and in shops, but this is set to change. The new rules will require mask wearing in most public venues, including cinemas and theatres.
Do you have to wear a face mask in a pub?
Pubs are exempt from the new face mask restrictions, as are restaurants and any other places where wearing a face mask would not be practical. However, although face masks in pubs are not mandatory, establishments can enforce their own rules on entry.
Where do you have to wear a mask?
Members of the public, as well as staff in public areas will be required with wear a mask in the following environments:
- Community centres, youth centres, members clubs and social clubs
- Attractions and entertainment venues
- Libraries and public reading rooms
- Indoor areas of sports stadiums
- Polling stations
- Places of worship, crematoriums, and burial ground chapels
- Public areas in hotels and hostels
These are in addition to the current requirements for public mask wearing which are:
- Shops, shopping centres and supermarkets
- Driving lessons
- Auction houses
- Premises providing personal care and beauty treatments
- Post offices, banks, building societies, high street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
- Estate and letting agents
- Transport hubs
- Retail galleries
- Retail travel agents
- Takeaways without space for consumption of food or drink on premises
- Public transport
WHAT IS A COVID PASSPORT?
A Covid passport, otherwise known as an NHS covid pass, shows your vaccination record or Covid test results. You can view what vaccine you were given, and the date of your vaccinations and boosters. These Covid passes can either be electronic or physical. You can present a QR code with your details, download a PDF version or receive an email with your current Covid status. Alternatively, you can request one be sent to you by post if you cannot use a digital pass. The posted version however does not contain details of any boosters, this is only available on the digital pass.
How do you get a covid passport?
The easiest way to get a Covid passport is through the NHS app available for your mobile device. Once you have signed in you will see an option to access your NHS Covid pass in the popular services section. This will take you to a page where you can access proof of your Covid status for domestic or travel purposes.
WHEN DOES PLAN B COME IN TO FORCE?
- The working from home requirements will come into effect on Monday 13th December.
- Face masks rules will come into effect on Friday 10th December.
- Covid passes will be required for large venues from Wednesday 15th December.
When will plan b be reviewed?
According to Sajid Javed, the current set of restrictions is due to be reviewed on January 5th 2022. He been quoted as saying "We take these steps with a heavy heart, but we do so confident that we're doing everything in our power to keep our nation safe this winter.
IS THERE A PLAN C?
Boris Johnson has been clear in saying that the current steps being taken to reduce the spread of the new variant are not a lockdown.
However according to a senior civil servant, the plans for tougher restrictions if Plan B is ineffective have been discussed. The exact nature of these restrictions is not clear, and the plan has not been extensively worked up.
As the landscape changes according to new data that comes in, we will have to wait to see if further, harsher restrictions are likely to come back in to affect.