Breaking: Boris Johnson announces Plan B restrictions to fight Omicron

Boris Johnson has this evening announced, as suspected earlier today, the introduction of Plan B coronavirus restrictions across England as the Omicron variant spreads across the country. The prime minister said it is the “proportionate and responsible thing to move Plan B”.

“It’s become increasingly clear that Omicron is growing much faster than the previous Delta variant,” the prime minister said.

“We can’t yet assume that Omicron is less severe… and it could lead to a big to a big increase in hospitalisations and sadly deaths.”

The Plan B changes to the Covid rules are:

  • Reintroducing guidance to work from home, if you can, from 13 December
  • Legally mandating face masks in “most public indoor venues”, including theatres and cinemas from 10 December, with exceptions “where it’s not practical, including while eating, drinking, exercising or singing”
  • NHS COVID passes for nightclubs, unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people, and any venue with more than 10,000 people
  • Daily testing for people identified as a contact of a coronavirus case – with isolation required only for people who test positive

These restrictions have a wider range than the ones first proposed when Plan B was spoken about in September, but the Omicron variant was yet to be discovered then. Mr Johnson has warned that the new variant is growing much faster than Delta, and its doubling rate could be between two and three days.

He also urged people to book in for their booster jabs. He said: “The single biggest thing that every one of us can do” was to get vaccinated and have booster jabs when called for them. “If and indeed as soon as it becomes clear that the boosters are capable of holding this Omicron variant, and we have boosted enough people to do that job, then we will be able to move forward as before”, he added.

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Written by

Claire Gordon