Boris Johnson press conference: England sticking with Covid Plan B for now but further restrictions possible
Boris Johnson has announced he plans to stick with Covid ‘Plan B’ in England for now, though he refused to rule out further restrictions.
The Prime Minister addressed the nation at 5pm on Tuesday, January 4 about the spread of the Omicron variant, the impact on hospitals and what further measures might be needed.
The eagerly anticipated update came as it was revealed a further 218,724 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases had been recorded in England and Scotland as of 9am on Tuesday – the first time that daily figure has been over 200,000.
But despite pressure growing on hospitals as admissions continue to rise, he said there were no plans for tighter restrictions.
Mr Johnson said the Government has identified 100,000 critical workers who will be offered daily lateral flow tests to help keep essential services open.
He announced that staff working in areas such as food processing, transport and the Border Force would be sent test kits for every working day from January 10.
“As the NHS moves to a war footing I will be recommending to Cabinet tomorrow we continue with Plan B because the public have responded and changed their behaviour buying valuable time to get boosters in arms,” he added.
The Prime Minister said, despite the high number of coronavirus cases being recorded in the UK, there was a ‘chance’ extra restrictions would not be needed in England.
Asked at the Downing Street press briefing about the likelihood of restrictions, he said: “We will monitor everything very closely – we clearly can’t rule anything out.
“What we are trying to do is take a balanced approach where we rely on people to implement Plan B carefully and to behave carefully with other people – and people are doing that, you can tell people are really responding to this and they are doing their absolute best, despite the extreme transmissibility of Omicron. What we’re also doing is massively accelerating the booster rollout and it has gone incredibly fast.
“I think, at the moment, it depends. To be absolutely frank with you, it depends on whether the virus will behave in the way it perhaps has behaved in South Africa, whether it peaks, how quickly it blows through.
“But if you ask me to guess, I would say we have a good chance of getting through the Omicron wave without the need for further restrictions, and without the need certainly for a lockdown.
“And the reason we are in that position, unlike many other countries in the world, certainly like many other countries in Europe, is that we just have such a high level now of booster protection, but that is no reason for everybody not to get more.”
The Government today said a further 48 people had died in England within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 174,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
Tuesday’s figures contain some delayed reporting of cases because of the holiday period.