Boris Johnson expected to announce Covid 'Plan B' at Downing Street press conference

8 December 2021, 17:05 | Updated: 8 December 2021, 17:07

Boris Johnson will hold a press conference at Downing Street on Wednesday evening.
Boris Johnson will hold a press conference at Downing Street on Wednesday evening. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Boris Johnson is expected to put into effect Covid-19 'Plan B' measures at a Downing Street press conference on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister will address the nation at 6pm following fears over the spread of the Omicron variant - and a backlash over No10's alleged Christmas party.

You can watch the press conference live on Global Player.

Plan B involves a return to working from home and the introduction of vaccine passports for mass events.

Senior Cabinet Ministers are gathering today to finalise the plans, which would impact Christmas.

Mr Johnson is reportedly set to introduce the measures as early as this week with some reports suggesting they could even come into effect from tomorrow.

The fresh Covid restrictions are designed to combat the spread of the Omicron strain which is now spreading in England.

The Prime Minister has warned that the Omicron variant appears to be 'more transmissible' than previous strains and is spreading quickly. Sage data shows the R rate of the Omicron variant is higher than that of Delta.  

It is understood that working from home measures are set to return for non-key workers as soon as tomorrow.

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The announcement is due to come in the midst of a major scandal after No10 aides were filmed joking about a Christmas Party in a video leaked to ITV.

The Prime Minister has been accused of using the announcement as a "diversionary tactic" amid backlash over the leaked video.

The video, obtained by ITV News, showed the Prime Minister's then press secretary Allegra Stratton and adviser Ed Oldfield, along with other aides, joking about a "fictional" Downing Street party in December 2020.

Ms Stratton is seen answering questions at a mock press conference on December 22 about a party the previous Friday - the date of the alleged Covid rule-breaking gathering which is said to have been attended by dozens of colleagues.

She has since resigned, saying she will "regret" the remarks for the rest of her days.

What is Plan B?

Ministers have kept most of their Plan B measures in reserve for if Covid cases rise so high that they place the NHS under unsustainable pressure.

They have already introduced mandatory face masks in shops and on public transport in England and, on November 27, promised to review the measures after three weeks.

The remaining restrictions in Plan B include the introduction of mandatory vaccine passports for larger events and nightclubs. These passports would prove people are double-jabbed and can attend the event.

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The Government has previously said it will seek to give businesses at least one week's notice before mandatory vaccine certification is enforced.

Face masks may also be brought in for other settings, such as when moving around restaurants, while the Government has said the plan allows for "asking people once again to work from home if they can, for a limited period".