What is Covid Plan B? Boris Johnson introduces new restrictions for Sheffield - including vaccine passports
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has brought ‘Plan B’ into force with a host of new restrictions to curb the spread of Covid ahead of Christmas.
After a video emerged showing Downing Street staff joking about a Christmas party being held during lockdown, Boris Johnson came under increasing pressure to clarify his position on Covid rules.
During Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday he apologised ‘unreservedly’ for the video and said an inquiry would be launched to find out if Downing Street aides broke the rules last Christmas.
He denies that any parties took place to his knowledge.
But as cases of the Omicron variant rise, the Government has decided to take further action to tackle the spread and has put more measures into force.
The Prime Minister addressed the nation on the evening of Wednesday, December 8, to enfore the new rules.
It came after Sheffield’s director of public health, Greg Fell, told The Star on Wednesday that Plan B measures were ‘likely’ be introduced in response to rising cases and the spread of the Omicron variant.
But what is Plan B and what are the new rules? Here is everything you need to know.
What did Boris Johnson say about Covid Plan B?
Originally the Prime Minister was not due to address the public until at least next week, when he was expected to issue an update on any Christmas Covid restrictions.
However, after growing speculation on December 8 that new rules were ‘imminent’, Boris Johnson appeared in a televised press conference to introduce the new rules much earlier than planned.
Downing Street sources previously said ‘no decisions’ had been made about any fresh restrictions, but this quickly changed as the PM triggered Plan B.
The new rules will be staggered but will come into force over the next week.
What are Plan B Covid restrictions?
The Prime Minister previously said there would be no new Covid rules introduced for Christmas and told people not to cancel their festive parties or plans, adding: “Christmas should go ahead as normally as possible”.
However, Plan B restrictions coming into force sees the the reintroduction of ‘work from home’ advice , as well as masks becoming mandatory in more locations and vaccine passports being required to enter certain venues.
The restrictions have led to many people cancelling their work Christmas parties and caused widespread concern about whether Christmas plans will still be able to go ahead as normal.
The new rules mean people will have to work from home ‘where possible’ from Monday, December 13.
Face masks will be required in all public indoor settings – except pubs or restaurants – from Friday, December 10, and vaccine passports will be required to enter nightclubs and large event venues from Wednesday, December 15.
At the moment there are no business closures or restrictions on meeting people or going out, but Sage member Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, told the BBC that another lockdown ‘certainly might be possible’.
It comes in response to a rise in cases of the Omicron variant, which scientists are still working to understand.
It has been suggested that the vaccines may not offer full protection from Omicron, but companies say they are working hard to make the necessary changes.
People are also being urged to get their booster jabs as soon as possible, with the programme being extended to all over-18s.
Where will I need a vaccine passport?
From Wednesday, December 15 you will be required to show a Covid pass – or proof of a negative test – to enter nightclubs and large event venues, including football stadiums.
In Sheffield, this includes popular spots like Leadmill, Network, Dryad Works and Corp.
Large sports events will also be required to use them, including Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday matches.
At the moment, the pass will consider you ‘fully vaccinated’ if you have been double jabbed, even if you haven’t had your booster – but this is currently under review.
A full list of places where the pass will be required can be found on the Government website.
Do I still have to self isolate if I am fully vaccinated?
According to the Government, it is still possible to catch and spread Covid-19 ‘even if you are fully vaccinated’.
The latest guidance from the Government says ‘anyone with Covid-19 symptoms or a positive test result should stay at home and self isolate immediately’.
It adds: “If you have symptoms of Covid-19, you should arrange to take a PCR test as soon as possible, even if you’ve had one or more doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.”
If you come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid and you are fully vaccinated; under the age of 18 and six months; taking part/have taken part in a vaccination trial or are exempt from vaccination for medical reasons, then you do not have to self isolate, providing you have no symptoms.
However, those who have come into contact with an individual who may have been infected with the Omicron variant will need to self isolate.
This will apply even if you are fully vaccinated or aged 18 or under. NHS Test and Trace will contact you if this is the case.