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New Covid rules under Plan B – as leaked memo reveals UK edging closer

Covid restrictions: Boris Johnson quizzed on wearing facemasks

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The Government has continued to deny claims Covid Plan B measures will be rolled out imminently in the face of rising rates of COVID-19 across Britain. Cases are on a sharp incline with more than 50,000 new infections reported in a single day for the first time in months this week. The Health Secretary said new daily cases could hit 100,000 if booster jab efforts were not taken up – but now health officials across the country are calling for tougher measures to protect the NHS and save lives.

A leaked Whitehall document warns Plan B measures could be introduced sooner than anticipated.

An urgent document distributed on Friday and seen by the Sun on Saturday reveals officials are considering an “immediate” rollout of Plan B measures.

The email was reportedly sent from the UK Health Security Agency to local council leaders and Public Health directors on Friday.

Winter Plan B proposals include initiatives such as vaccine passports and compulsory face masks.

According to the Sun, an official wrote: “I have been asked to canvas opinion on the level of support for the immediate roll-out of the Winter Plan – Plan B.”

The document includes a “menu of measures” including vaccine passports in nightclubs, crowded indoor settings and outdoor venues with more than 100,000 attendees.

The need for “legally mandating face coverings in certain settings” is also being considered.

The message adds that the public would have to be told “clearly and urgently” that the risk level had increased with “the need to behave more cautiously”.

Working from home is another move being considered according to the document.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth called on Mr Javid to “fix the stuttering jabs campaign”.

Mr Ashworth said: “With a mounting tide of Covid sickness and hospitals under crushing pressure it’s no surprise Tory ministers are secretly plotting to bring back masks and introduce vaccine passports.

“But whether it’s plan A, B or C to get on top of this deadly disease Sajid Javid needs to urgently fix the stuttering jabs campaign.

“Vaccination should be our wall of defence but that wall is crumbling. The complacency must be ditched, we need vaccination fixed.”

A UKHSA spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on leaks. It is part of UKHSA‘s role to provide advice to the Government on the ongoing response to the pandemic.”

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The plans directly conflict with comments made by several ministers including the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on Sunday.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Sunak said: “At the moment the data does not suggest that we should be immediately moving to Plan B.

“The Prime Minister actually just said that we’re looking at the data all the time, as you would expect us to.”

The Chancellor said the “priority” for the Government at the moment is the booster jab programme

What is Covid Plan B?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his Plan A and B measures earlier this year.

Covid Plan B is the Government’s Covid winter strategy for if cases escalate to an alarming degree which would put pressure on the NHS.

England has two proposals for the continuation of the Covid crisis: Plan A if the number of cases remains manageable and the Plan B will be enacted if the NHS starts to struggle.

Plan A includes the continuation of NHS Test and Trace and free PCR tests.

This first step, in effect now, involves encouraging free flu jab take-up, reminding people to let in fresh air when meeting indoors and wearing face masks in crowded places.

But if the worst case happens and Plan A proves insufficient, authorities want to prevent “unsustainable pressure” on the NHS by introducing the Covid Plan B.

Plan B would see compulsory face coverings introduced in some settings and advice for people to work from home.

The introduction of vaccine passports is another key point of Plan B.

Government officials have thus far refused to share the exact data on infections, hospitalisations and deaths needed for Plan B to come into force.

However, scientific advisers claim it is important to monitor the number of hospitalisations, rapid rates of change in figures and overall state of the NHS.

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