Covid Plan C may come into force as ministers ‘spooked’ by ‘rapid escalation’ of Omicron

Boris Johnson urges UK to ‘get boosted now’ to fight Omicron

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Ministers are said to have been “spooked” into considering more draconian Plan C restrictions to protect the NHS from the rapid rise in Omicron infections. The move may hamper the promise of a normal Christmas by the UK Government.

The discussion seems to be motivated by the fact that Britain saw 59,610 new cases of Covid yesterday, the highest daily figure since early January.

A senior Downing Street official warned: “It will go bigger.”

One of the sources told The i that possible contingency plans are being studied “within the bowels of the Government”.

One of the measures being considered is a return to the “bubbles” last December, when no more than two families were permitted to mix on Christmas Day and non-essential travel was banned – although Boris Johnson is understood to be firmly opposed to this policy.

Other restrictions before Christmas could include the return of social distancing and mask-wearing in all hospitality settings including pubs and restaurants.

Health officials have estimated that a total of 200,000 cases of Omicron variant may start coming every day, according to modelling for the UK Health Security Agency.

One senior Whitehall source, who has worked on the Government’s Covid response throughout the pandemic, told The i: “There’s no doubt ministers and officials have been spooked.

“Not only by the rapid escalation of Omicron case, which was expected, but also the testing supply issues we’ve seen as a result of the huge increase in the booster rollout programme to all over adults.

“But the biggest issue is that even if everyone that wants a booster can get one before the end of this month, they will still not be protected against Omicron before Christmas.

“For many in Whitehall, and some ministers, further restrictions are the only way of stopping millions of Omicron within a couple of weeks.

“Therefore, some form of restrictions over Christmas are becoming more likely every day.”

A spokesman for the Government also told the publication: “Plan B, as set out in September, was introduced last week.

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“Face coverings are compulsory in most public indoor venues, people are asked to work from home if they can, and from tomorrow a Covid pass or negative lateral flow test will be needed to enter nightclubs and large events.

“We have also introduced daily contact testing for all contacts of positive cases, and people should as always follow public health guidance.

“We know that vaccines remain our best line of defence against Covid, which is why we are ramping up vaccine capacity and offering all adults a jab by the New Year.”

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