Plan C news latest – Michael Gove hints Omicron Covid restrictions could get TOUGHER with 'pub table service' an option

TOUGHER ‘Plan C’ restrictions could be enforced in the New Year if the Omicron variant sees cases surging, according to reports today.

The i says a new package would ramp up current rules by reintroducing the NHS Covid app check-in for pubs and restaurants, making face masks compulsory in all indoor spaces and using vaccine passports for more venues.

It could also see the return of compulsory 10-day isolation for contacts of confirmed cases of all Covid variants – despite whether you're double-jabbed or not.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson's Plan B has today officially kicked in with the introduction of mandatory face coverings in a range indoor settings, including public transport, theatres, cinemas and churches.

Read our Omicron live blog for the latest news and updates…

  • Louis Allwood

    Latest figures

    It was revealed yesterday that there are was a total of 1,265 confirmed cases of the variant, up by 448 since Thursday, but the UKHSA say there are likely thousands more.

    On Friday a further 58,194 Covid cases were announced across the UK – the highest since July 15 – and 120 additional deaths.

    Most cases are Delta, but Omicron is projected to become the dominant variant in the UK by mid-December, based on current trends, UKHSA said.

  • Louis Allwood

    Head of Immunisation at the UKHSA statement

    Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at the UKHSA, said: “These early estimates should be treated with caution but they indicate that a few months after the second jab, there is a greater risk of catching the Omicron variant compared to Delta strain.

    “The data suggest this risk is significantly reduced following a booster vaccine, so I urge everyone to take up their booster when eligible. We expect the vaccines to show higher protection against the serious complications of Covid-19, so if you haven’t yet had your first two doses please book an appointment straight away.

    “Working from home where possible, consistently wearing masks in crowded or enclosed spaces, washing your hands regularly and isolating and getting tested if you feel unwell are also vitally important in reducing the impact of Covid-19 this winter.”

  • Louis Allwood

    No Brits hospitalised yet

    Covid vaccines do work to stop the spread of Omicron, experts have found.

    So far in the UK no Brits have been hospitalised with the variant – which has seen a 54 per cent rise in just 24 hours.

    Brits have been urged by medical experts as well as ministers to come forward and get their Covid vaccines as well as their booster doses.

    The Sun wants readers to join its 'Give Britain a Booster' campaign, after thousands signed up through our 'Jabs Army' to get jabs in arms and assist the NHS with the rollout.

    It's vital to get your life-saving jabs and be fully protected – after the latest research from Pfizer found three doses "neutralises" the mutant variant.

    New analysis released today showed vaccine effectiveness against Omicron compared to Delta.

    This looked at 581 cases of people who had confirmed Omicron and showed that AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines provided much lower levels of protection against symptomatic infection compared to the protection that they provide against Delta.

  • Louis Allwood

    Cobra meeting findings

    An emergency Cobra meeting was presented with "deeply concerning" data about Omicron, Michael Gove warned on Friday night.

    The top Minister said the super-strain accounts for 30 per cent of all cases in London and opened the door to fresh restrictions to stem the rising tide.

    Hinting at possible future restrictions, he said: "We need to keep everything under review. I think the approach we are taking is proportionate.

    "We recognise the importance of balancing people's abilities to get on with their lives, with the need to protect them against this virus."

  • Louis Allwood

    Covid passes and passports

    The NHS Covid pass – obtained by having two jabs or a negative lateral flow test – will be introduced as an entry requirement into nightclubs and other large indoor venues from Wednesday.

    The vaccine passport will be needed in all 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. 

    The PM's spokesman said: "Obviously we need to keep the characteristics of this variant under review, and we would act if necessary, but there's no plans to go beyond what we set out."

  • Louis Allwood

    Many head to pubs and clubs across Britain as Plan B rules hit (Continued…)

    It comes amid fears Christmas bashes could be cancelled to curb the spread of the new Covid super-strain.

    There have been 1,265 Omicron cases so far in the UK, but none has yet been admitted to hospital.

    Health chiefs said the results were “not as bad as we feared” and it is now mission critical for the booster rollout.

    And Downing Street said there were "no plans" to go harder than the Plan B restrictions announced on Wednesday for mandatory masks, working from home and vaccine passports.

  • Louis Allwood

    Many head to pubs and clubs across Britain as Plan B rules hit

    Many work Christmas parties have taken place across the UK as Plan B rules come into force and fears grow over the spread of Omicron.

    Brits enjoyed a night on the town as they continued to celebrate Christmas parties and a festive tipple with friends.

  • Louis Allwood

    Six MPs could QUIT Government over new Covid restrictions

    Tories could quit as members of the Government next week over new "deeply unpopular" Covid restrictions, it has been revealed.

    At least six parliamentary private secretaries have declared war on the Prime Minister's tough new measures aimed at combating the Omicron variant that are to be voted on Tuesday.

    In a Whatsapp message sent to Conservative MPs today, the Government set out plans for a number of votes next week on "Plan B" restrictions, The Telegraph reports.

    The votes are due to take place just hours before the introduction of vaccine passports on Wednesday morning at 6am.

    It is believed there will be at least three different votes on different measures to lessen the backlash caused by a potential rebellion.

    The Telegraph reports that between 60 and 80 Tory MPs are planning to vote against the already unpopular measures.

  • Louis Allwood

    Santa got his jab

    It is hoped huge take-up of jabs — especially boosters — will spare Brits from further lockdown misery.

    Santa joined The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign yesterday and the millions getting a booster jab.

    Volunteer Adrian Withers, 62 — who dressed up as Saint Nick — and nurse Bridget Gallagher, 25, give hundreds of doses of the jab every day at the PSM Pharmacy Practice in Tolworth, Surrey.

     Adrian said: “We have more and more people coming to our pharmacy every day asking for their booster.” 

  • Louis Allwood

    Booster protection is 'great news'

    Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, said: “It’s great news that the boosters take our protection back up to 70 to 80 per cent — now it’s vital that we get them rolled out.

    “We know vaccines are better at protecting against severe disease than infection so I think we will see that that is high again.

    “If you’ve had two doses and a natural infection you’re probably going to be quite well protected, too.

    “The bad news is that Omicron is a lot more infectious than Delta but hopefully it will slow down. Ultimately it’s going to have to burn itself out.” 

  • Louis Allwood

    Triple-jab protection is best way to beat Omicron

    The Booster jab can combat Omicron and save us from more lockdown pain, says a morale-boosting study.

    Any two doses plus a Pfizer booster give up to 75 per cent protection, experts say.

    Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This data shows how important boosters are.”

    Three shots also defend better against severe disease or death — but two doses will soon fail to prevent even a third of cases.

    Mary Ramsay, jabs chief at the UKHSA, said: “These early estimates show that, a few months after the second jab, there is a greater risk of catching Omicron compared to Delta.

    “But the data suggests this risk is significantly reduced following a booster vaccine.

    “We expect the vaccines to show higher protection against the serious complications of Covid-19.”

  • Louis Allwood

    Do I have to self-isolate after I test positive for Covid-19?

    If you test positive for Covid, you have to self-isolate.

    It's a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive or are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. You could be fined if you don't.

    You should not leave the house for any reason, including for work or to go to the shops.

    Self-isolate immediately if you have symptoms or have had a positive test result.

    If you have symptoms, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the day your symptoms started, if earlier than when you took your test.

    For close contacts of people who have tested positive, you only need to self-isolate if you are vaccinated, or the infected person has or is suspected to have the Omicron variant.

  • Louis Allwood

    How long do results take from a PCR Covid test?

    Most people typically get their result the next day, but it can take up to three days.

    NHS Test and Trace figures show around 95 per cent of people get a result in 24 hours if they are tested under Pillar 1, which covers places like hospitals and outbreak spots.

    But around 60 per cent of those tested at large drive-through centres, under Pillar 2, get their result back in 24 hours.

    The figure is lower (55 per cent) for those that do their test at home.

    The turnaround time has historically fluctuated depending on the Covid outbreak at the time.

    For example, results may take longer to come back during very busy periods or peaks of waves because labs are swamped with tests.

    Usually the result is sent to you via text or email when it's ready. If you have the NHS Covid-19 app, the result might come to you that way.

    If you do not get your results by day six, then call 119. Calls to 119 are free from a landline or mobile phone. Lines are open from 7am to 11pm.

  • Louis Allwood

    How does it work?

    It uses a long cotton bud, which takes a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat.

    PCR tests – which are mainly for people with Covid symptoms – are sent to a lab to be checked.

    If you have any of these three Covid symptoms, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed.

    You can order an NHS PCR test kit to be sent to your home.

    You need to get the test done in the first eight days of having symptoms.

  • Louis Allwood

    What is a PCR Covid test?

    PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are the gold standard and are sent off to a lab to be properly processed – unlike lateral flow tests that can be completed at home in less than an hour.

    PCR swabs can be taken at a drive-through centre or can be sent to you at home.

    It is sent to a laboratory where a lab technician looks for genetic material of the virus using highly specialised equipment.

    The PCR tests are much better at finding very small amounts of the virus, especially early during an infection.

    So these are used primarily in people who have Covid symptoms.

  • Louis Allwood

    312 places where Covid cases are still rising

    CORONAVIRUS cases are rising in 312 places and this interactive map reveals if your local area is one of them.

    The rise in cases comes as Brits will now have to wear face masks in cinemas and theatres from today.

    In the seven days to December 5, just 63 places have seen a fall in rates and the map above shows current infection rates.

    Torridge in Devon continues to have the highest rate in the UK, with 632 new cases in the seven days to December 5 – the equivalent of 919.7 per 100,000 people.

    This is down from 1,062.3 in the seven days to November 28.

    One of the main reasons that cases have continued to be at high levels in Torridge is due to a surge in cases in age groups that have seen a fall in other areas of Devon and in the country.

  • Louis Allwood

    4 key Omicron numbers that could spark more restrictions

    THE UK has been plunged into new Covid restrictions thanks to the concerning Omicron variant.

    There are four key measures the Government is analysing to consider whether further rules will be needed in the fight against the strain.

    This could mean rules on how many people we can meet up with, vaccine passports for small venues or self isolation rules for vaccinated people.

    In the worst case scenario, another lockdown could be used to keep a lid on infections, possibly in the new year when Omicron is expected to be the dominant variant. 

    Prime Minister Boris Johsnon revealed the four key numbers that will determine if England needs more restrictions at this week’s gloomy Downing Street Briefing.

    He said: "[We will be] guided by the hard medical data around four – efficacy of vaccines, severity of Omicron, speed or spread and rate of hospitalisations.

    "We will monitor the data and keep it under review and we need to be humble in the face of the virus.

    "As soon as it becomes clear boosters are capable of holding Omicron and we have boosted enough then we will be able to move forward as before."

  • Louis Allwood

    Health bosses concerning warning

    WITHOUT Plan B, Omicron's peak could be HIGHER than January and "very stringent measures will be needed," health bosses warn.

    The new Covid variant could put "significantly more pressures" on the NHS as the country struggles to keep the R rate down, a report said.

    Health bosses warned that it's highly likely that "very stringent measures" will be needed to keep the R rate below 1.

    And Omicron's peak could be higher than January 2021 – when Brits were forced into a full, total lockdown.

    The statement from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group, stated: "If omicron in the UK combines increased transmissibility and immune escape, irrespective of severity, it is highly likely that very stringent measures would be required to control growth and keep R below 1.

    "Delaying any wave of infections in such a scenario would allow more time for vaccines and therapeutics to be modified to combat omicron."

  • Louis Allwood

    Austria will give out fines to those who refuse jab

    AUSTRIA will impose criminal fines of up to £12,000 a year if they refuse the Covid vaccination.

    The move comes amid a shift across much of Europe towards increasingly harsh measures to crack down on vaccine hesitancy amid fears Omicron patients will overwhelm hospitals.

    Under Austria's plans to make injections against coronavirus compulsory from February onwards.

    It comes as Europe’s coronavirus death toll could soar by another 700,000 this winter, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

    Austria's conservative-led government today gave details of its plan to make coronavirus vaccines compulsory, saying it will apply to people 14 and over and holdouts face fines of up to £3,000 every three months.

    Roughly 68 per cent of Austria's population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, one of the lowest rates in western Europe. 

    Many Austrians are sceptical about vaccines, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third biggest in parliament.

  • Louis Allwood

    Statement from first primary school with confirmed Omicron case

    A spokesman for the school said: "The school has followed the national guidance and has written to the parents of all children who have been in close contact with the affected person.

    "This testing is voluntary but parents have been strongly encouraged to comply, even if their children have recently had a negative PCR test.

    "They have been advised to keep their children at home and self-isolate in line with government guidance."

    Pupils parents received an email informing them of the situation and a mobile testing unit has been dispatched to the school in Keary Road today.

  • Louis Allwood

    Government rebellion

    Boris Johnson is facing an enormous rebellion over the introduction of vaccine passports, which are included in Plan B.

    As many as 100 Tory MPs could vote against the new measures, meaning the PM would be relying on Labour votes to get them through.

    Mr Scully said he hopes many colleagues will reconsider and pointed out the Government has changed its plans due to concerns.

    Brits will now be able to provide proof of a negative lateral flow test to enter large venues.

    Originally the plan was for only fully vaccinated people to be covered by the scheme.

  • Louis Allwood

    Britain faces ‘difficult few weeks’

    Britain is facing a "difficult few weeks" as Omicron spreads rapidly and businesses struggle with new Covid restrictions, a minister has admitted.

    Business minister Paul Scully conceded "it's going to be tough" for bars and restaurants with many reporting mass cancellations of Christmas parties.

    And he acknowledged the scandal over lockdown-breaking festive bashes in No 10 last year has made it harder to ask Brits to obey the new rules.

    His remarks come amid reports ministers are already drawing up more draconian 'Plan C' rules for after Christmas.

    They could include tough new curbs on bars and restaurants like scanning in to enter and a return to table service only.

    Mr Scully said he accepts measures already in place like mask wearing will be "very difficult" for many small businesses to police.

    He said members of staff shouldn't "put themselves at risk" of violence by confronting customers who refuse to follow the rules.

  • Louis Allwood

    Hospitality left 'annihilated'

    Adam Brooks, at The Three Colts in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, added: “The latest fear-mongering and restrictions have annihilated hospitality at our busiest time.

    “With the crazy work from home rules, why don’t workers unite in making our pubs their offices?”

    The Campaign for Pubs’s Greg Mulholland added: “Whether people are hot-desking in their local or having a party in the pub, they’ll get a lot more sense from hardworking publicans and staff than they are from ministers.”

    And Lee Worsley, boss of the Coach House Inn, Winterbourne Abbas and Kings Arms, Portesham, both in Dorset is offering breakfast or lunch, a hot drink and five hours’ work station for £15.

    He said: “It’s worth taking advantage of these barmy rules to spend some time with a pub’s welcoming and lovely staff.

    “Working on your own for hours can be negative for your mental health. Working from the pub can help you — and a local business.”

  • Louis Allwood

    Christmas restrictions grow as Scots told to CANCEL parties

    Scots were told to cancel their parties – while Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak canned theirs.

    The Government is still officially urging people to press ahead with bashes and school nativities despite implementing Plan B restrictions.

    But the rip of Omicron across the country has sparked fresh fears of tough countermeasures that could blow a hole in the festivities.

    Top Scottish scientists are already urging the public to pull the plug on gatherings to stop the spread.

    Dr Nick Phin, the director of public health science and medical director at Public Health Scotland said: "I would strongly urge people to defer their Christmas parties to another time."

    He added: "I appreciate that everyone is keen to celebrate this festive season, particularly after the pressures of the last 20 months, but by postponing some plans we can all do our bit to protect ourselves and our loved ones."

  • Louis Allwood

    New rules in place

    New laws will come into force in the next week which will bring in the PM’s Plan B rules – here’s what we know about what will come in and when.

    • On Friday MASK rules will be toughened to include almost all remaining public places like cinemas and theatres. This will be a tweak to the law – with the regulations emerging later today
    • From next Monday WORKING FROM HOME will be advised if you can. But this will be guidance, and not law
    • Next Wednesday VACCINE PASSPORTS will be introduced for crowded venues like nightclubs and footie stadiums. This will be a new law, introduced to MPs next Monday before a vote on Tuesday.

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