What is Covid ‘Plan C’ and what restrictions would you expect to see if it was triggered?


As the government’s Covid Plan B comes into effect, questions are being raised over whether another plan with tougher restrictions will be needed to address the fast spread of Omicron before Christmas. Here’s what Plan C could entail

A member of bar staff wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) in the form of a face mask, pours drinks inside the Wetherspoon pub
As Omicron continues to spread, questions are being raised about whether a Plan C will come into force

Last Wednesday, Boris Johnson announced that from today onwards work from home guidance would be back in place in the UK.

The Plan B measures also included mandatory face coverings in most indoor venues from Friday as well as vaccine passports for nightclubs and other large events from December 15.

However, on Friday Downing Street confirmed there was growing evidence that the Omicron variant of Covid spreads faster than the Delta variant.

This has led to questions on whether Plan B will be enough to control the spread of the new variant and rumours of officials drawing up a ‘Plan C’ with tougher rules.

What is the government’s Covid Plan C and when could it be triggered?

Boris Johnson triggered Plan B bringing work from home and face coverings in most indoor spaces into effect
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Right now there is no official Plan C.

While the government’s Covid Winter Plan published in September included Plan B, which Boris Johnson has now triggered, an official spokesperson for the Prime Minister confirmed that there were “no plans to go beyond what we’ve set out already.”

He added that he is not aware of any specific Plan C document but said: “As a responsible Government, of course, you would expect us to… we have an array, already, of options available to us in terms of what measures we can take to mitigate a growth of any variant or virus.”

While Plan C is still not official, further contingency plans seem imminent especially with UK’s top medics recommending that the nation move into level four Covid alert.

The government has not yet revealed the thresholds that could trigger the new restrictions.

But based on previous lockdowns and throughout the pandemic one of the major aims of restrictions is to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed due to Covid admissions.

Another key factor is how well vaccines work against the new variant, particularly given the concerns that Omicron can evade vaccine immunity.

What restrictions would be introduced under Covid Plan C?

NHS Covid app

Any further restrictions will depend on how effective vaccines are and on hospital admissions due to Omicron
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People could be asked to use the NHS Covid app to check into pubs and restaurants to help with contact tracing.

This rule was in place just after the lockdown, when the hospitality venues opened up, but it was later abandoned due to the “pingdemic,” when thousands of people were told to isolate, leading to staff shortages.

In August, the rules were also changed so that double jabbed people didn’t need to isolate if pinged by the app. Instead they were asked to take a PCR test.

Face masks in all indoor spaces

Under Plan B, the rule on face coverings applies to most indoor spaces including theatres, cinemas, shops and public transport.

Though current restrictions give exemptions for activities like eating, exercising or singing, any further restrictions could see face masks become mandatory even in hospitality settings as well.

Vaccine passports in smaller venues

People will need to prove they are double jabbed or that they have tested negative for Covid for entry into nightclubs and other large scale events like football matches, starting from December 13.

Under Plan C, this maybe expanded to smaller venues like pubs too, though the government has said it is reluctant to do so.

Isolation rules tightened

Self-isolation rules were changed in the summer so that those who were double jabbed no longer had to self-isolate at home for 10 days if they came into contact with an infected person.

After Omicron began spreading, the rules were adjusted so that anyone who had been in contact with infected person had to isolate regardless of the vaccination status.

This 10-day rule and any further changes on self-isolation could be unpopular, but may make an impact in controlling cases.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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