The Prime Minister has today confirmed that England will move to Plan B following the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the UK.
The most recent data suggests that Omicron has a very high growth rate and is spreading rapidly. There are currently 568 cases confirmed across the UK and early analysis from the UK Health Security Agency suggesting the doubling time could be as little as 2.5 to 3 days.
As a result of this concerning data, the Prime Minister has confirmed that Plan B measures will come into force, while more data on vaccine efficacy and disease severity is assessed. Plan B was set out in September and will help to slow the spread of the variant and reduce the chances of the NHS coming under unsustainable pressure, while buying time to deliver more boosters.
As part of the Government’s plan:
- From Friday 10th – The legal requirement to wear a face mask has been extended to most public indoor venues, including theatres and cinemas. There will be exemptions where it is not practical, such as when eating, drinking, exercising and singing.
- From Monday 13th – The re-introduction of working from home where you can. Where you have to go to your workplace, reduce your contacts there to reduce transmission.
- From Wednesday 15th – The NHS Covid Pass will be mandatory for entry into nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather. This includes unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people. The NHS Covid Pass can still be obtained with two doses of the vaccine but this will be kept under review as the boosters roll out. Alternatively, a negative lateral flow test can be shown. There would be a small number of exemptions for medical reasons and for those on clinical trials.
- Daily tests will be introduced for Omicron contacts rather than self-isolation to keep people safe while minimising the disruption to daily life.
For businesses within personal care, mandatory wearing of face coverings is already in place. The NHS COVID pass will not be mandatory for personal care services and where employees cannot work from home they do not have to do so.
General guidance on the changes can be found here.