Just days after it led the public into believing that plans for vaccine passports were off the table, the Government has announced that they will be introduced – along with mask mandates and potentially another full lockdown – if booster jabs and vaccines for healthy teenagers fail to keep Covid infections down this winter. Laying out its new plans, the Government said it is “committed to taking whatever action is necessary to protect the NHS”. MailOnline has the story.
Fronting a press conference alongside Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance, the Prime Minister insisted that the U.K. was “incomparably” better placed to deal with the disease this year.
He said he hoped the situation could be kept stable with more jabs and the public behaving sensibly – although ministers have made clear another lockdown cannot be completely ruled out.
Professor Whitty gave a more downbeat assessment saying that infections were “high” relative to last year, and the NHS was under “extreme pressure” even though vaccines were helping significantly.
Meanwhile, Sir Patrick seemed to send a thinly-veiled message to Mr. Johnson by saying that when it comes to measures to stem cases the lesson was “you have to go earlier than you want to, you have to go harder than you want to”. …
Earlier, Sajid Javid was heckled by Tories admitting that ministers can only give Britons the “best possible chance” of avoiding brutal curbs.
In a statement to MPs, he stressed that vaccines can help “build defences’ against the disease, with boosters for the over-50s and jabs for under-16s starting next week.
But Mr Javid was hit with howls of rage from Conservatives in the Commons as he said the blueprint includes the ‘Plan B’ of making masks compulsory “in certain settings”, more working from home and social distancing if the NHS is under threat.
Vaccine passports will be kept “in reserve” and could be introduced in England with a week’s notice, even though they will not go ahead from next month as originally intended. …
The Winter Plan document lays out the details of ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’. But although it does not go into detail about other contingencies, it states that further steps cannot be ruled out.
“While the Government expects that, with strong engagement from the public and businesses, these contingency measures should be sufficient to reverse a resurgence in autumn or winter, the nature of the virus means it is not possible to give guarantees,” the document says.
“The Government remains committed to taking whatever action is necessary to protect the NHS from being overwhelmed but more harmful economic and social restrictions would only be considered as a last resort.”
Worth reading in full.