Boris Johnson said today that if ‘Plan A’ of booster injections for the over-50s and immunisations for schoolchildren fails to keep the disease under control, mandatory masks and Covid passports would be held in reserve for the winter.
DURING A PRESS CONFERENCE, the PM, flanked by Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, argued that the UK was “incomparably” more prepared to deal with the epidemic this year. He expressed hope that the situation might be stabilised with more vaccinations and responsible public behaviour, while ministers have stated that another lockdown cannot be entirely ruled out.
Prof Whitty was more pessimistic, noting that infections were “high” compared to the previous year and that the NHS was under “extreme pressure,” even though vaccines were greatly helping. Mr Johnson was speaking to the nation just hours after his mother died, and he expressed gratitude for the condolences he had received.
Conservatives shouted at Sajid Javid as he admitted that ministers could only give Britons the “best possible chance” of avoiding harsh curbs. According to the Health Secretary, the country must be “vigilant”, as the disease is expected to rise in the coming months as the weather becomes colder and wetter. Vaccines can help develop defences against the disease, he said in a statement to MPs, with boosters for over-50s and jabs for under-16s commencing next week.
Conservatives in the Commons erupted in anger when Mr Javid revealed the blueprint included a “Plan B” of making masks mandatory “in some circumstances,” more working from home, and social isolation if the NHS is threatened.
Vaccine passports will be held “in reserve” and might be implemented in England with a week’s notice, even though they will not be implemented next month as planned. Mr Javid stated that the package is designed to give the greatest possible possibility of avoiding stricter restrictions. If an “escape variant” emerges, the government would take further action.
“Any responsible government must prepare for all eventualities,” saying he was determined to guard the progress. “The plan shows how we’ll give this nation the best possible chance of living with Covid without the need for stringent social and economic restrictions,” the Cabinet minister added.
He believes it is “highly likely” that frontline NHS workers and those working in broader social care settings will need Covid-19 and flu vaccinations before they can work on words.
Mr Javid said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps would update foreign travel ahead of the formal review point on October 1, hoping to abolish the traffic signal system and announce the phase-out of PCR tests. Fully-jabbed holidaymakers will be able to rely on lateral flow versions instead, according to the Health Secretary.
However, in addition to expressing their opposition to the reinstatement of masks, Tory MPs asked that the government relinquish further authority to impose limitations on civil freedoms. In a press conference this afternoon, the Prime Minister will lay out his strategy.
On the other hand, scientists are already warning that the country will enter the winter with a high number of cases, which does not augur well in hopes of avoiding more limitations.