Opposition politicians have joined calls for stricter Covid restrictions to be introduced in England, including working from home and mandatory masks.
However, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said that the data currently does not suggest “moving immediately to Plan B.”
Who is asking for Plan B and why?
Daily Covid cases have risen to 50,000 and Health Secretary Sajid Javid says they could double.
The Labor Party has joined a number of organizations that last week called for some kind of action:
Does Plan B mean another lockdown?
The Health Secretary said in September that the government could bring extra measures in England, if necessary, to protect the NHS from “unsustainable pressure”:
- Communicate clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased and the need to behave more cautiously.
- Introducing mandatory Covid passports
- Make face coverings mandatory again
- Advise people to work from home
These proposals, Plan B, would only allow England to effectively adjust to the restrictions that still exist in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The government has consistently said that there are no plans for another blockade in England.
He argues that due to the success of the vaccination program, relatively small changes could have a large impact.
What could trigger Plan B?
No single event or set of figures would necessarily trigger Plan B, but the government said it would monitor:
- rapid rates of change in figures
- the general status of the NHS
Javid said on Oct. 20 that there were no current plans to incorporate Plan B, but cautioned that restrictions were more likely if use of the vaccine failed.
The government has denied media reports that it is considering a “Plan C”, which could prohibit mixing between households.
What is plan A?
Plan A is the winter strategy currently in operation in England:
What restrictions currently exist in England?
What is the situation in Wales?
Prime Minister Mark Drakeford has announced a slight tightening of restrictions in response to the increase in cases:
- Starting November 15, people will need to use their NHS Covid Pass to enter cinemas, theaters, and concert halls (subject to Senedd approval); already required for entry to nightclubs as well as many indoor and outdoor events
- People who are fully vaccinated (and those under 18 years of age) should be isolated if someone in their household has symptoms or tests positive; can be stopped after a negative PCR test
Other restrictions include:
- Work from home whenever possible
- Mandatory face coverings in public transport, shops and hospitals, but not in bars / restaurants
- College and high school staff and students should continue to test regularly.
- Face masks are no longer recommended in schools, but are still recommended in crowded spaces like school buses.
What is Northern Ireland’s winter plan?
The Northern Ireland Executive Covid fall / winter contingency plan sets out a series of measures that could be implemented if hospital pressures become “unsustainable,” including:
- the introduction of Covid passports in “higher risk environments”
- Reinforced arrangements for self-isolation for close contacts.
- a return to mandatory social distancing
What restrictions currently exist in Northern Ireland?
- Up to 30 people from any number of households can mix indoors in home environments
- Up to four people from no more than two households can visit nursing homes (maximum of four visits per week)
- Mandatory face coverings in stores, places with covered seating and visitor attractions
- Enclosed spaces with seats “strongly recommended” (but not legally required) to request a double vaccination test or a negative lateral flow test
- Dancing is not allowed indoors where music is played (apart from weddings and civil ceremonies)
- Face coverings are required on public transportation and some other settings, unless exempt
- Work from home whenever possible
- Social distancing in the hospitality industry continues until October 31
- The clubs will be closed until October 31.
What are the Northern Ireland Covid-19 rules now?
What is the situation in Scotland?
- Physical distancing rules remain in healthcare settings such as hospitals, GP surgeries, and dentists, where the 6 ft (2 m) rule applies.
- Face coverings are still mandatory on public transportation and inside places like stores.
- Indoor hospitality venues should collect customer contact details
- Keep working from home whenever possible
- Organizers of large events (5,000 outdoors, 2,000 indoors) must apply for permission
- All school personnel and high school students are required to wear face covers indoors
- There are no big face-to-face lectures in colleges and universities.
- Everyone over the age of 18 must prove their vaccination status at nightclubs and other venues
Covid in Scotland: What are the rules?