What is Covid Plan B and what are the rules across the UK this winter?

Image source, Getty Images

Opposition politicians have joined calls for stricter Covid restrictions to be introduced in England, including working from home and compulsory masks.

However, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said the data does not currently suggest “closest moving to Plan B”.

Who’s calling for Plan B and why?

Daily Covid situations have risen to 50,000 and Health Secretary Sajid Javid says they could double.

The Labour Party has now joined a number of organisations which last week called for some sort of action:

Does Plan B average another lockdown?

The health secretary said in September that the government could bring in additional measures in England – if necessary – to protect the NHS from “unsustainable pressure”:

  • Communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and the need to behave more cautiously
  • Introducing mandatory Covid passports
  • Making confront coverings compulsory again
  • Advising people to work from home

These proposals – Plan B – would only bring England effectively in line with restrictions nevertheless in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government has consistently said there are no plans for another lockdown in England.

It argues that because of the success of the vaccination programme, comparatively small changes could have a big impact.

What could cause Plan B?

No single event or set of figures would necessarily cause Plan B, but the government said it would monitor:

  • hospitalisations
  • rapid rates of change in figures
  • the overall state of the NHS

Mr Javid said on 20 October that there were no current plans to bring in Plan B, but warned restrictions were more likely if vaccine take-up faltered.

More than four million people have now had a booster jab in England, but across the UK as a whole, 14% of people aged over 12 are nevertheless unvaccinated.

The government has denied newspaper reports it is considering a “Plan C”, which could ban mixing between households.

What’s Plan A?

Plan A is the winter strategy currently in operation in England:

What restrictions are currently in place in England?

What are the complete rules in England?

Image source, Reuters
Image caption, Vaccination take-up is at the heart of plans to control Covid this winter

What’s Wales’ winter plan?

Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford has set out two planning scenarios:

  • Covid Stable, where Wales remains at the present alert level zero
  • Covid Urgent, where there’s a sudden decline in situations

Under Covid Urgent, before drawn up “alert levels” – including level four lockdown – could be reintroduced.

Current restrictions include:

  • Working from home wherever possible
  • confront coverings compulsory on public transport, and in shops and hospitals – but not bars/restaurants
  • College and secondary school staff and students should keep testing regularly
  • confront masks no longer advised in schools, but nevertheless recommended in crowded spaces like school buses
  • NHS Covid Pass needed for entry to nightclubs, in addition as many indoor and outdoor events – from 15 November, it will be needed for entry to cinemas, theatres and concert halls

Q&A: What Covid rules will stay in Wales?

Image source, Getty Images

What’s Northern Ireland’s winter plan?

The Northern Ireland Executive’s autumn/winter Covid contingency plan sets out a range of measures which could be deployed if hospital pressures become “unsustainable”, including:

  • the introduction of Covid passports in “higher risk settings”
  • strengthened arrangements for self-isolation for close contacts
  • a return to mandatory social distancing

What restrictions are currently in place in Northern Ireland?

  • Up to 30 people from any number of households can mix indoors in domestic settings
  • Up to four people from no more than two households can visit care homes (maximum of four visits per week)
  • confront coverings compulsory in shops, indoor seated venues and visitor attractions
  • Indoor seated venues “strongly recommended” (but not legally obliged) to ask for proof of double vaccination or a negative lateral flow test
  • Dancing not permitted at indoor venues where music is played (except weddings and civil ceremonies)
  • confront coverings mandatory on public transport and some other settings, unless you are exempt
  • Work from home where possible
  • Social distancing in hospitality settings remains in place until 31 October
  • Nightclubs keep closed until 31 October

What are Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 rules now?

What’s the situation in Scotland?

  • Physical distancing rules keep in healthcare settings such as hospitals, GP surgeries and dentists, where the 2m (6ft) rule applies
  • confront coverings nevertheless compulsory on public transport and inside places like shops
  • Indoor hospitality venues must collect customer contact details
  • Keep working from home where possible
  • Large event organisers (5,000 outdoors, 2,000 indoors) must apply for permission
  • All school staff and secondary pupils to use confront coverings indoors
  • No large in-person lectures at colleges and universities
  • All over-18s required to prove their vaccine position at nightclubs and other venues

Covid in Scotland: What are the rules?

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