Government sets out 'Plan B' for Covid this winter

School Covid test

Prime minister Boris Johnson has set out the government's Plan B for Covid this winter - Credit: PA

The prime minister did not rule out mandating vaccine passports or facemasks, as he unveiled the government's 'Plan B' for coronavirus this winter. 

In a press conference this afternoon, prime minister Boris Johnson said the country's position today was in some ways "more challenging" than this time last year.

Mr Johnson went on to hail the country's vaccine rollout, and said the government would continue with current measures such as hand-washing, ventilation and mask wearing.

Despite this he said the government would not rule out mandating measures such as vaccine passports and facemasks.

Earlier today health secretary Sajid Javid told the House of Commons today that booster vaccines will be offered to people aged 50 and over, those in care homes, and frontline health and social care workers from next week.

Explaining the government's plan for an expected surge in Covid cases this winter, Mr Javid said: “We have seen how quickly this virus can adapt and change so we have prepared a Plan B of contingency measures that we can call upon only if they are needed and supported by the data to prevent unsustainable pressure on the NHS.”

The government's fall-back measures could include:

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– Communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and with it the need to behave more cautiously.

– Introducing mandatory vaccine-only Covid-pass use in settings including nightclubs; indoor venues with 500 or more attendees likely to be in close proximity to others, such as music concerts; outdoor settings with 4,000 or more people, such as festivals; and any settings with 10,000 or more people, such as sports events.

– A legal requirement to wear face coverings in some settings.

– Advice to work from home.

The autumn and winter plan states that the contingency measures “should be sufficient to reverse a resurgence” but “the nature of the virus means it is not possible to give guarantees”.

It says “more harmful economic and social restrictions would only be considered as a last resort”.