Boris Johnson prepares to reveal Covid winter plan with lockdowns ‘a last resort’

·3-min read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Covid measures would be kept in reserve (PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Covid measures would be kept in reserve (PA) (PA Wire)

Guidance to work from home and the mandatory use of face masks are likely to be retained as options in the Prime Minister’s Covid winter plan, with lockdowns being a “last resort”.

The Prime Minister will tell the nation on Tuesday how the country can learn to live with coronavirus, underlining how vaccinations will be a central part of the response in the coming months.

Covid laws, which are no longer required, will be ditched and plans for vaccine passports for nightclubs and other large crowd venues have been shelved.

The travel traffic lights system is also expected to be scrapped and PCR tests will no longer be required for fully vaccinated travellers.

Number 10 said another lockdown over winter would only be considered as a “last resort”.

Meanwhile, the UK’s four chief medical officers said on Monday children aged 12 to 15 should be offered a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to reduce potential transmission in schools.

Asked whether ministers would consider a winter lockdown if Covid-19 cases rise, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “We are in a very different place than where we were previously when other lockdowns were introduced, thanks to the success of our vaccine programme and other things like therapeutics treatments for coronavirus.

Boris Johnson was tight-lipped on whether he would rule out a winter lockdown ahead of Tuesday’s announcement (PA Wire)
Boris Johnson was tight-lipped on whether he would rule out a winter lockdown ahead of Tuesday’s announcement (PA Wire)

“We would only ever consider those sort of measures as a last resort and we will set out in more detail tomorrow what our approach will be should we see a significant increase in cases.”

Boris Johnson was tight-lipped on whether he would rule out a winter lockdown ahead of Tuesday’s announcement on Covid rule changes.

Speaking on a visit to Leicester on Monday, he said: “We’ve got to do everything that’s right to protect the country.

“But the way things are going at the moment we’re very confident in the steps that we’ve taken.”

Earlier, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said some regulations may still be needed as the NHS prepares to battle both Covid and seasonal flu in the winter months.

Asked about maintaining the work-from-home advice, she told BBC Breakfast of the need to keep some rules on the table, adding: “Whether that’s with what you just mentioned or making sure statutory sick pay can be paid from day one rather than day four, as tends to happen in more regular times.

“These are the sensible measures I think that we’re going to keep.”

On the issue of masks, she added: “The Prime Minister will be setting out the Covid winter plan tomorrow. I think my approach, and I see that with a lot of employers’ organisations, is about having a situation-specific approach.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday vaccine passports were a “huge intrusion into people’s lives” and there were no current plans to go ahead with them.

However, Ms Coffey said the introduction of vaccine passports had not been “ruled out forever”.

During his visit, Mr Johnson said he wanted to avoid passports too. “What we want to do is avoid vaccine passports, if we possibly can,” he said.

“That’s the course we’re on but I think you’ve got to be prudent and you’ve got to keep things in reserve in case things change.”

The Government outlined the plans for booster vaccinations which are expected to be given to the most vulnerable people first.

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