Boris Johnson Announces Return To Plan A Coronavirus Measures
Boris Johnson has announced a return to the ‘Plan A’ coronavirus measures after ‘Plan B’ was implemented in December.
The news comes after a cabinet review of the latest coronavirus data, with a government spokesperson explaining decisions about changes to restrictions were ‘finely balanced’.
Current rules under Plan B include compulsory face coverings for most indoor public spaces, advice to work from home if possible and the use of coronavirus vaccine passes for nightclubs and large events.
Today, January 19, Johnson cited ONS data which indicates coronavirus cases are falling and announced that the UK will be returning to ‘Plan A’ in England from January 27, concluding that the government will no longer require the wearing of face masks or the use of vaccine passports, or recommend working from home.
As of tomorrow, the PM added, the government will no longer require face masks in school classrooms, though the use of face coverings is still recommended in public spaces.
Plan B aimed to help reduce the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 as well as to allow time to administer more booster jabs, though Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Tuesday he was ‘cautiously optimistic that we will be able to substantially reduce restrictions next week.’
Ahead of Johnson’s announcement today, the government spokesperson stressed that it is ‘thanks to the phenomenal efforts of the NHS and many dedicated volunteers that we have now delivered over 36 million boosters to people across the UK.’
The Omicron variant continues to pose a significant threat and the pandemic is not over. Infections remain high but the latest data is encouraging, with cases beginning to fall.
Vaccines remain our best line of defence and we urge people to come forward, to give themselves the best possible protection.
The latest government figures from January 18 reveal that a total of 673, 987 people have tested positive for coronavirus between January 12 and January 18, a 38.9% reduction from the week prior.
On January 18 alone the UK recorded 94,432 new cases and 438 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, and while this was the highest figure since February 24, 2021, the daily death figure tends to be higher after weekends due to reporting delays.
Ministers were widely expected to approve the decision to end Plan B measures for people to work from home and use vaccine certificates from January 26, though it was considered less likely they would agree to drop mask mandates.
The director of public health for one city in the north of England expressed fears over the decision to remove measures, saying they felt it was ‘too early, certainly in the north’.
Per The Guardian, they continued:
We’re still seeing real pressure in hospitals, and people being off work. The idea of dropping everything next week just doesn’t seem sensible. If we tell people they can all go back to the office, we’ll just get even more people off sick.
I personally thought we shouldn’t have lost masks when we did last year – it was too soon. Every time you take something away and try to reintroduce it, public support is lost. I just wish there was a bit more time, so we can feel slightly more comfortable. It’s not just Covid, but all the pressures on the NHS.
Johnson’s announcement comes as he continues to face criticisms for breaking lockdown rules in 2020.
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