As of the 8th of December, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that England will in fact move into ‘Plan B’. This comes after the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the UK. But what is Plan B? Is Christmas cancelled? We’ve got everything you need to know.
Why are we initiating Plan B?
In November, a new variant of the coronavirus was spotted. It has wreaked havoc across Europe, and there were concerns that it would case another wave of the virus in the UK when it eventually, inevitably, reached our shores. To help prevent this, the government put in place harder restrictions on travel on Saturday 27th November, preventing more people from travelling if they have the virus. On top of this, the government re-implemented the mask mandate – or at least, part of it. Patrons now have to wear a mask (unless exempt) in shops and on public transport.
However, this did not seem to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant, and data has suggested that it has a very high growth rate and is spreading much faster than some of the other variants. There are currently 568 cases of Omicron confirmed across the UK, and the UK Health Security Agency suggest that this could double in two days.
A rise in cases such as this would lead to a rise in hospitalisations, which would increase the pressure on the NHS. With other nations like South Africa showing an increase in hospitalisations already, the government have decided to act now.
What is Plan B?
Plan B consists of a few branches of restrictions. From Friday 10th December, face coverings will be compulsory in most indoor venues. This includes cinemas, theatres and churches or other places of worship. This will not apply in hospitality settings, as it becomes very hard to eat a meal with a mask on!
From Wednesday 15th December – subject to Parliamentary approval – the NHS Covid Pass will be mandatory for entry into night clubs, or any setting where large crowds gather. This includes unseated indoor events with more than 500 or more attendees as well as unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more people, or any event with 10,000 or more attendees. This will allow people to demonstrate their vaccine status, or demonstrate a negative lateral flow test.
These restrictions will be set to expire after six weeks, with a review taking place on them after three.
On top of Plan B, the government is urging those able to go and get their booster vaccine. This third shot of the vaccine helps maintain the protection provided by the previous two doses, and, it seems, provides the best protection against even the Omicron variant.
What are the Covid statistics in the UK right now?
At the moment, there are around 10.6 million cases of Covid in the UK, and there have been 146,000 deaths. On average, there are over a million tests taken each week, and 4.4% of those are coming back positive.
Will Christmas be cancelled?
It seems, for now, that the government don’t want to lock us down for Christmas. The rules that were put in place last year will hopefully stay a thing of the past, but this will all depend on how the next few weeks go. The statistics are the most important thing when it comes to the government’s decisions, so it is just a waiting game.