Plan B restrictions ‘to be scrapped this month’ as PM plots fightback
The Prime Minister is set to scrap Plan B Covid restrictions in England later this month as he plots a leadership fightback in the wake of several lockdown-breaching party allegations.
Mr Johnson is looking to move on from the so-called ‘partygate’ claims by lifting the measures put in place to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, The Telegraph reports.
The Plan B rules, which include the use of Covid passports and work from home guidance, are due to expire on 26 January, subject to a review.
Scientists appear to have provided evidence that support the lifting of rules, as modelling included in new Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) documents suggests that restrictions would make little difference to hospital admissions.
Documents released by Sage on Friday (14 January) show that Warwick University modelled the end of Plan B on 26 January and compared it to adding in more restrictions, such as the rule of six and a ban on indoor mixing.
The modellers said it was “striking” that additional controls were found to have “relatively little impact” on the peak level of hospital admissions, although it could bring the overall epidemic under control more quickly.
What rules could be lifted?
Covid passports and work from home guidance are widely expected to be lifted from 26 January.
This will mean people will no longer have to show proof of their vaccination status or a recent negative test to gain entry to nightclubs and large venues and events.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid is understood to have concluded that the certification policy is no longer needed now that there are “encouraging signs” that coronavirus infections are starting to drop, The Times reports.
Mr Javid made the case for the use of Covid passports last month when Omicron cases were spiking across the UK, but he is now expected to argue that the measure is no longer needed.
A Whitehall source told the paper: “There was always a very high threshold for the policy and it looks increasingly likely in a couple of weeks that threshold won’t be met.“The way cases are going it will be hard to justify renewing.”
While most Plan B restrictions are set to be scrapped, it is likely that some rules on wearing face masks will remain, according to The Telegraph.
Under current rules, face masks are mandatory in most indoor venues in England, and on public transport.
It is believed that this may be the only Plan B measure to stay in place.
When will an announcement be made?
It is expected that the government will make an announcement on lifting Plan B measures next week.
However, Downing Street has made clear that a final decision on whether to remove restrictions in England on 26 January has yet been made.
The decision will come after coronavirus case numbers fell below 100,000 per day for the time since 21 December on Friday (14 January), while hospital admissions have also started to drop.