Government’s “Plan B” for Covid comes into force

Government’s “Plan B” for Covid comes into force

Due to the rising cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, Prime Minster Boris Johnson has announced this afternoon (Wednesday 8th December 2021) that “Plan B” has come into force.

Plan B was introduced during the announcements of the government’s plans for tackling Covid during autumn and winter in England on 14th September 2021, and the PM expanded on this during today’s press conference.

The new rules include:

Working from home, where people are able to do so. Employers have the rest of this week to put plans in place to accommodate this, and from Monday 13th December people are expected to put this in action.

– Covid passports in nightclubs and similar crowded settings.

This includes unseated indoor venues of more than 500 people, outdoor settings of over 4,000 and any venue with over 10,000 people. A negative lateral flow test taken in the past 48 hours will also be sufficient instead of the Covid certification.

People will be exempt from showing a Covid passport when attending religious worship, weddings and funerals.

Businesses can download the NHS Pass Verifier which will scan someone’s vaccine passport and hold the data within the NHS, so removing any barrier or GDPR concern.

This is to be introduced from next Wednesday, 15th December.

– Face coverings will be a legal requirement in “most public venues”, including theatres, cinemas, places of worship, museums and indoor sport stadiums. Click here to see a full list of settings you must wear a mask in.

Face masks are already a legal requirement in shops, banks, post offices, hairdressers and on public transport as of 30 November.

Daily tests will be introduced for Omicron contacts rather than self-isolation to keep people safe while minimising the disruption to daily life.

The Prime Minister has also urged those who have not yet done so, to get their vaccination, or booster jab when possible.

Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, CBE, President of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: 

“We have been calling on the UK Government for several months to set out what contingency plans for business would look like if further restrictions were needed this winter. Yet again, firms are now being asked to make changes at the very last minute. Restrictions will also impact on consumer behaviour with knock on effects which could risk the fragile recovery, order books and revenues. 

“Many businesses have only just begun to get back on their feet and this move will inevitably damage business confidence. Critically, firms need to know that the Government will support them through this next period. 

“The Government must once again stand shoulder to shoulder with business and provide a package of support to ensure that we get through a challenging winter without serious damage to our economic recovery.” 

“Many businesses have only just begun to get back on their feet and this move will inevitably damage business confidence."

On Work From Home

“A return to advice that staff should work from home ‘where they can’ will come at a huge cost to swathes of businesses.  

“While many firms now have well established remote or hybrid working practices, which will provide some resilience, there will be many more that will be badly affected by reduced footfall in our towns and city centres. 

“This will impact on business revenues at a time when many needed to have a prosperous festive season.  We need to have grant support in place for all firms affected and their supply chains.” 

On Covid Passports 

“We need to immediately see full details from Government of how businesses will be expected to implement this policy.  

“Chamber businesses have told us repeatedly that this could prove difficult to implement and police effectively without comprehensive support and clear guidance. The full backing of Government and authorities is needed in enforcing this policy which can often put staff at risk of harassment or even violence. 

“In addition, they will need to understand urgently where legal responsibility for compliance with the policy sits. Businesses will have a strong preference for legal responsibility to sit with individuals to comply, as it does with facemasks.” 

“Firms will also want early clarity on whether booster shots will play any part in the scheme.” 

On Self Isolation Changes 

“We welcome the pragmatic step to allow contacts of Omicron cases to leave self-isolation per daily negative lateral flow test results. This will give businesses providing critical services a chance to maintain staff levels at a time when these are already strained by labour shortages and will help to avoid another ‘pingdemic’.” 

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