Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled plans for tacking Covid in England during autumn and winter.
The government’s plan includes booster jabs for millions – but reserves measures like vaccine passports for certain settings.
Plan A is designed to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed, and promotes vaccines and testing.
Plan B, to be used if the NHS is coming under “unsustainable pressure”, includes measures such as face masks.
Under Plan A of the autumn and winter plan, announced by Health Secretary Sajid Javid, ministers will:
- encourage the unvaccinated to be jabbed
- offer vaccines to 12 to 15-year-olds
- begin a booster jab programme for millions
The plan will also include continued testing, tracing and self-isolation for infected individuals.
Businesses will also be encouraged to consider using the NHS Covid Pass to check the vaccination or test status of customers.
Under Plan B – which ministers say would only be enacted if further measures are needed to protect the NHS:
- the public would be urged to act more cautiously
- mandatory vaccine passports could be used for mass events and other settings
- face coverings could be legally mandated in some places
Guidance on working from home may also be issued under this plan.
Mr Johnson, discussing the plan at a Downing Street news conference, said Covid “remained a risk” but he was confident vaccinations could protect the gains made.
The prime minister said he hoped the vaccination programme meant the UK could remain “one of the most free societies” in Europe, with only limited restrictions to keep Covid under control.
But he emphasised the government will enforce Plan B if Covid cases proliferate over the coming months.
Plan B made use of “a number of different shots in the locker”, he said.
“You wouldn’t necessarily play them all at once, far from it, you would want to do things in a graduated way,” he said.
“Because so many of the population have some degree of immunity, smaller changes in the way we’re asking people to behave can have a bigger impact.”
Prof Chris Whitty, chief medical adviser, warned that “winter is coming” and that respiratory viruses such as flu and others would be “hugely advantaged”.
“If you’ve not had your vaccination, now is a very good time to do so,” he added.