On the heels of the news of a Downing Street Christmas party in 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to potentially introduce Plan B restrictions in England as early as this week.
Mr Johnson stated that the Omicron variant is indeed more transmissible than previous variants, including Delta, and cases are expected to continue to rise.
There is no evidence yet to show that Omicron is more dangerous or deadly than previous variants.
Ahead of the holiday season, where more people are expected to mix with friends and family, many are concerned that more restrictions will be introduced just before Christmas, similar to in 2020.
Mr Johnson confirmed the implementation of Plan B measures – but what’s actually included in the plan?
Here’s what we know about Plan B and when the measures will come into play.
What Plan B restrictions?
In mid-September, Mr Johnson outlined two plans for tackling Covid during autumn and winter of 2021.
The first, Plan A, was designed to prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed, with an emphasis on testing and vaccinations.
The second, Plan B, was only to be used if the NHS faced “unsustainable pressure”.
It included measures such as urging the public to act more cautiously, encouraging businesses and employees to work from home where possible, enforcing mandatory vaccine passports for mass events, and legally mandating face masks in some public spaces.
Mr Johnson has already reintroduced mandatory face masks in areas like public transport and shops in England.
What did Boris Johnson say in his Plan B announcement?
When asked what would spark a move from Plan A to Plan B in September, Mr Johnson said that the risks, the state of the disease, and the pressure on hospitals would all be taken into consideration.
He also emphasised that the smaller changes requested by the government as part of both Plan A and B were designed to avoid returning to lockdowns like in 2020 and early 2021.
On December 8th, senior government sources suggested that the UK government would hold a cabinet meeting to discuss Plan B, and then make a subsequent announcement.
While no such statement was mentioned during PMQs on the same day, Mr Johnson did indeed hold a press conference later that day.
Mr Johnson announced that the NHS Covid pass is to be made mandatory in England in a week’s time for nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather.
Guidance to work from home is also to be reintroduced and the Prime Minister encouraged everyone who can to go out and get their booster and flu jabs.
These measures will come into place from December 15th, one week from when the announcement was made.
So far, the Scottish Government has aligned this country’s restrictions with the UK Government’s measures since the emergence of the Omicron variant.
However, it’s also worth noting that two of the main steps included in Plan B are still in place in Scotland, with vaccine passports already mandatory for certain events and face masks still compulsory in public.
Members of opposition parties have pointed out that members of the public may not adhere to new measures, given the nationwide anger over Downing Street’s 2020 Christmas party.