What is the UK's Covid-19 winter 'Plan B'?

20 October 2021, 15:29

Plan B could be introduced for winter.
Plan B could be introduced for winter. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

There have been calls for the Government's 'Plan B' to be enforced as Covid cases continue to rise across the UK - find out what the changes would mean.

The Government initially announced two options for their ‘winter plan’ in September, depending on how well the country made its way out of the pandemic.

Contingency plans were prepared in the event that things once again took a turn for the worse - labelled 'Plan B'.

What is Plan B?

With a slow uptake of the Covid booster jab from over-50s, and hospitalisations on the rise, the chances of 'Plan B' coming into effect have increased.

The back-up plan would mean the return of certain restrictions such as:

  • Lockdowns "as a last resort".
  • Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings.
  • Potential introduction of vaccine passports.
  • Working from home where possible for a limited time.

Read more: Government must enforce Covid 'Plan B' to avoid winter crisis, says NHS chief

Read more: Sajid Javid warns of 'tough winter' as No10 'closely' monitors new covid variant

What is the alternative?

If the virus is kept under control across the UK, only a few "essential" rules will be kept in place for the winter period.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid previously broke down the five key areas in ensuring the country could move forward without restrictions - dubbed 'Plan A'.

They included: strengthening pharmaceutical defences, test and tracing, supporting the NHS, encouraging people to change their daily routines and an international effort to improve global access to vaccines.

Read more: Maajid Nawaz: Jab deadline for care home workers will 'trigger' winter 'plan B'

Is there a Plan C?

The Government has not announced a third option in moving forward. However, there have been calls for one to be created.

NHS chief Matthew Taylor said: "Health leaders need to understand what a 'Plan C' would entail if [Plan B] measures are insufficient.

"The Government should not wait for Covid infections to rocket and for NHS pressures to be sky high before the panic alarm is sounded."

Mr Taylor late told Sky News that, alternatively, under a "Plan B plus", people should be asked to wear masks, work from home, and unnecessary indoor gatherings should be discouraged.

It comes as Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told LBC’s Nick Ferrari that another Covid lockdown would not happen now people have returned to "normal life".

"We’ve worked really hard to get to the point that we could actually open up the economy,” he said.

"We’ve got a fast growing economy, people getting back to work, getting back to normal life.

"I think any talk of lockdowns is just not at all helpful and it’s not going to happen."

Health Secretary Sajid Javid is set to give a Covid update on Wednesday at 5pm.