What is the government's Plan B for Covid this winter?
- Credit: PA
As the number of Covid cases continue to rise, the UK government has devised a plan of action in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
With more than 40,000 daily cases in the UK, health secretary Sajid Javid has warned that the number of infections could hit 100,000 a day.
The government has established a plan for meeting the challenge of Covid head-on over the winter and has confirmed that restrictions will only be reintroduced if the National Health Service (NHS) comes under "unsustainable pressure".
Mr Javid told a Downing Street news conference: "If not enough people get their booster jabs, if not enough of those people that were eligible for the original offer don't come forward and if people don't wear masks when they really should in a crowded place and don't wash their hands then it's going to hit us all.
"It would make it more likely that we're going to have more restrictions."
What is the Winter Covid Plan A?
After all restrictions were lifted on July 19, the government said it would be putting its trust in the vaccination programme.
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However, with cases on the rise and winter on the horizon, the government has devised its Autumn and Winter Response Plan.
In a bid to sustain the progress made and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed, the government will:
- Build its defences through pharmaceutical interventions: vaccines, antivirals and disease modifying therapeutics
- Identify and isolate positive cases to limit transmission: Test, Trace and Isolate
- Support the NHS and social care: managing pressures and recovering services
- Advise people on how to protect themselves and others: clear guidance and communications
- Pursue an international approach: helping to vaccinate the world and managing risks at the border.
Under Plan A, people can mix as normal without any restrictions.
What's Plan B?
If the data begins to suggest that the NHS will come under unsustainable pressure, the government will seek to control the transmission of the virus while minimising economic and social impacts.
Due to the success of the vaccination programme, the government hopes to handle a further resurgence with less damaging measures than the lockdowns and economic and social restrictions deployed in the past.
Under Plan B, the government will:
- Communicate clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and with it the need to behave more cautiously
- Introduce mandatory vaccine-only COVID-status certification in certain settings
- Legally mandate face coverings in certain settings
The government would also consider asking people once again to work from home if they can, for a limited period.
Does Plan B mean a lockdown?
No. The government has consistently said it has no plans for another lockdown.
Plan B would only bring England in line with the current measures of the other countries in the UK - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The UK government strongly believes in the strength of the vaccination programme and instead believes that small changes could have a big impact.
Does a Plan C exist?
According to The Telegraph, a Plan C is being considered and has been discussed in parliament should Covid infections get even worse.
However, there are currently no details.