MASKS, working from home and even vaccine passports could return under the Government’s Winter Covid Plan, Sajid Javid revealed today.
The Health Secretary outlined a five-pronged strategy to get a grip on cases heading into the colder months – but also unveiled a “toolbox” of tough contingency measures to wrestle down a sudden surge.
Laying out the “Plan B” in advance, Mr Javid said: “These measures would be communicating clearly and urgently to the public the need for caution.
“Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings. And whilst we’re not going ahead with mandatory vaccine Covid status certification now, we’ll be holding that power in reserve.
“As well as these three steps, we continue we consider a further measure of asking people to work from home if they can for a limited time.”
Boris Johnson will later announce his Winter Plan to the nation at a 3.30pm Downing St press conference with Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance.
In key Covid developments today:
- Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said lockdowns would be a “last resort”
- JCVI boffins fleshed out the details for a booster blitz for the over-50s
- Kids aged 12-15 will receive a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine
Doomster scientists are worried the NHS could be swamped with a Covid surge in the colder months as well as the usual seasonal flu outbreak.
Deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van Tam today warned this winter could be “bumpy”.
Outlining the perils of winter , Mr Javid said: “We must be vigilant as autumn and winter of favourable conditions for Covid-19 and other seasonal viruses.
“Children have returned to school, more people are returning to work. The changing weather means that there will be more people, perhaps spending time indoors, and there’s likely to be a lot of non-Covid demand on the NHS including flu or norovirus.”
There is also concern that vaccine effectiveness against the Delta variant may be fading for older people who got jabbed at the start of the year.
BOOST FOR BRITAIN
Boffins from the JCVI held a separate press conference this morning fleshing out the details for the booster campaign.
Over-70s and the most vulnerable are expected to be jabbed first before descending in age order.
Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
Yesterday several furious backbenchers were up in arms at reported plans to tighten rules on masks and guidance to work from home.
They are threatening to vote down the PM’s bid to keep his draconian emergency Covid powers for another six months.
Chair of the Covid Recovery Group Mark Harper said: “They shouldn’t be kept in reserve – they are pointless, damaging and discriminatory.”
Last night the PM rolled the pitch to warn we’ll still be living with Covid for the foreseeable future.
He said: “The pandemic is far from over, but thanks to our phenomenal vaccine programme, new treatments and testing we are able to live with the virus without significant restrictions on our freedoms.
“Today I will set out a clear plan for the autumn and winter, when the virus has a natural advantage, to protect the gains we have made.”