December 8, 2021 6.29 pm This story is over 23 months old

Vaccine passports, face masks and home working: Prime Minister confirms plan B measures to tackle Omicron variant in England

Vaccine passports, tighter rules on masks and working from home return

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed the Government’s plans to enact its Plan B measures in response to the growing numbers of new Omicron COVID-19 cases.

In a press briefing on Wednesday Mr Johnson said: “It’s become increasingly clear that Omicron is growing much faster than the previous Delta variant and it’s spreading rapidly all around the world. 568 cases have been confirmed through genomic sequencing across every region of the UK, and the true number is certain to be much higher.

“We can’t yet assume that Omicron is less severe than previous variants. So, while the picture may get better and I sincerely hope that it will, we know that the remorseless logic of exponential growth could lead to a big rise in hospitalisations so, therefore, sadly, in deaths.”

The latest changes include:

  • Vaccine-only COVID passports becoming mandatory for entry to nightclubs and venues of more than 500 indoors, 4,000 unseated outdoors and any venue of more than 10,000 capacity. A negative lateral flow test would also be sufficient. This will come into effect in a week’s time.
  • Face masks becoming a legal requirement in most indoor venues, including cinemas and theatres from Friday
  • Asking people to work from home, if they can, from Monday
  • Daily tests for contacts instead of isolation

We will give businesses a week’s notice so this will come into force in a week’s time, helping to keep these events and venues open at full capacity, while giving everyone who attends them confidence that those around them have done the responsible thing to minimise risk to others,” said Mr Johnson.

Face masks are already a legal requirement in shops, banks, post offices, hairdressers and on public transport as of November 30.
However, the latest round of restrictions tightens the rules further.

There were 51,342 new Covid cases confirmed in the UK on Wednesday and 161 new deaths.

A further 131 Omicron infections were also reported across the UK.

The latest COVID stats for Greater Lincolnshire on Wednesday are:

  • 821 new cases of coronavirus with 560 in Lincolnshire, 136 in North East Lincolnshire and 125 in North Lincolnshire.
  • Two further deaths were recorded in the government figures including one Lincolnshire and one North East Lincolnshire resident
  • No further hospital deaths were recorded in the latest NHS figures

Greater Lincolnshire has seen its coronavirus infection rates bounce up again but continues sit below the national average in terms of infection rates for the past seven days, with a figure of 474.6 per 100,000. The England national rate is 483.7.

Before the announcement today, council and business bosses had said more clarity was needed on support for businesses across the UK if Plan B was enacted.

The latest announcement comes amid controversy surrounding alleged Christmas parties held at 10 Downing Street in the middle of lockdown last year. Many have responded to the scandal by saying they won’t carry on complying with restrictions if the country’s leaders cannot lead by example.

In a busy news day, it was also confirmed that over 40s can book now book booster jabs after three months — as the NHS celebrates one year of the vaccination programme.

Coronavirus data for Greater Lincolnshire on Wednesday, December 8

164,016 (up 821)

  • 109,883 in Lincolnshire (up 560)
  • 26,289 in North Lincolnshire (up 125)
  • 27,844 in North East Lincolnshire (up 136)

2,524 deaths (up two)

  • 1,846 from Lincolnshire (up one)
  • 341 from North Lincolnshire (no change)
  • 337 from North East Lincolnshire (up one)

of which 1,512 hospital deaths (no change)

  • 933 at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (no change)
  • 45 at Lincolnshire Community Health Service hospitals (no change)
  • 1 at Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust (no change)
  • 533 in Northern Lincolnshire (NLAG) (no change)