Boris Johnson Plan B announcement LIVE – PM reveals vaccine passports, work from home & mask plan ahead of Christmas

  • 22:49, 8 Dec 2021
  • Updated: 22:49, 8 Dec 2021

BORIS Johnson has addressed the nation with a key update on the Government’s plan to tackle Covid-19.

He announced Plan B covid restrictions will now be enforced, including vaccine passports, ordering Brits to work from home, and an expansion of the number of places in which masks must now be worn.

The announcement deals a massive blow to hopes of a normal Christmas and comes just days after the Government urged Brits to keep their festive party plans, insisting they weren’t going to push the panic button.

Read our Omicron live blog for the latest news and updates…

  • NHS Covid Pass experiencing technical issues

    The NHS Covid Pass experienced technical difficulties on Wednesday hours after the Prime Minister announced a move to Plan B in England.

    Users reported on social media being unable to download their domestic or travel passes from the NHS England app.

    Those who tried to download the domestic pass were faced with a loading screen before it diverted to a page outlining how to get the pass.

    Others wanting to download their travel pass were presented with a message which said: “An unexpected error has occurred.”

    Some users said they got a message which said: “Please try again later. There are currently issues with accessing the Covid Pass on the NHS app and website. We are investigating the issue and will update as soon as we can.”

    It comes hours after Boris Johnson announced England would be moving into Plan B following a spike in cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

    The NHS Covid Pass, which can be obtained by having two vaccines or a negative lateral flow test, will be introduced for entry into nightclubs and other large venues from December 15.

  • Omicron ‘likely to overtake Delta before Xmas’

    Experts say there is more likely to be 1,000 to 2,000 true cases of Omicron, pushing daily infections to 90,000 a day by Christmas.

    “It’s likely to overtake Delta before Christmas at this rate, precisely when is hard to say,” Prof Ferguson said.

    “We’ll start seeing an impact on overall case numbers – it’s still probably only 2 per cent, 3 per cent of all cases so it’s kind of swamped, but within a week or two, we’ll start seeing overall case numbers accelerate quite markedly as well.”

    Prof Ferguson, from Imperial College London, said the peak of this wave of infection will be in January if no measures are taken to slow it down.

    It comes as data shows 336,893 new cases were reported in the past seven days – the highest number for a seven-day period since the week to January 16 2021.

  • Omicron is spreading rapidly, says Sage

    Omicron is spreading “rapidly” in the UK and is very likely to lead to a rise in hospital admissions, scientists advising the Government have said.

    Minutes from a meeting held by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on Tuesday said the proportion of Omicron infections that result in hospital admission cannot be known until there have been more people in hospital, but even if there was a “modest reduction in severity” of illness compared to the Delta variant, this “would not avert high numbers of hospitalisations if growth rates remained very high”.

    The scientists said Omicron is likely to account for the majority of new Covid infections in the UK “within a few weeks” and it may partially or largely replace Delta, which is currently the dominant variant.

    In its own assessment, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it is likely that Omicron will become the dominant strain in Britain and it expects at least 50% of Covid-19 cases to be caused by Omicron in the next two to four weeks.

    The Sage document said: “Although there are several unknown factors, preliminary modelling suggests that without any changes to measures in place, the number of hospitalisations from Omicron may reach 1,000 per day or higher in England by the end of the year (and still be increasing at that point).

    “The overall scale of any wave of hospitalisations without interventions is highly uncertain, but the peak could reach several times this level.”

  • Fans will require Covid pass for events with over 10,000 people

    Proof of coronavirus vaccination or a negative lateral flow test will be required for spectators to attend sporting events in England with crowds of over 10,000 after the Government announced it is to implement ‘Plan B’.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a press conference at Downing Street on Wednesday evening to introduce new measures in response to rising cases and the spread of the Omicron variant.

    He confirmed that under the new rules – which will come into effect in a week’s time – for entry to any venue with more than 10,000 people, double vaccination or a negative lateral flow test will be mandatory. Four Premier League matches are scheduled to take place next Wednesday.

    The Prime Minister said: “We will make the NHS Covid pass mandatory for entry into nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather, including unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people.

    “The NHS Covid pass can still be obtained with two doses but we will keep this under review as the boosters roll out.

    “And having taken clinical advice since the emergence of Omicron, a negative lateral flow test will also be sufficient.

    “As we set out in Plan B, 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.”

  • PM announces Plan B restrictions

    Work-from-home guidance will return, vaccine passports will become mandatory in large venues and mask rules will be extended to combat the Omicron variant as Boris Johnson announced a move to his Plan B to tackle coronavirus.

    The Prime Minister warned it is clear the new strain is “growing much faster” than Delta and cases of Omicron could be doubling every two or three days as he strengthened England’s rules to slow the spread of Covid-19.

    Mr Johnson said that guidance to work from home where possible will return from Monday, and mandatory mask wearing will be extended to public places like cinemas and theatres from Friday.

    The NHS Covid pass will be mandatory in nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather from “a week’s time”, the Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference, as he described the measures as “proportionate and responsible”.

    In the Commons, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there are 568 cases of Omicron confirmed but that the true figure is estimated to be “probably closer to 10,000”.

  • Vallance: ‘Incredibly important people follow rules’

    Sir Patrick Vallance told a Downing Street press conference it was “incredibly important” for people to follow the rules.

    “Measures work when people follow them and that’s been shown time and time again during this. It’s incredibly important everyone follows it, that’s everybody.

    “It was incredibly important throughout, it’s going to be incredibly important going forward and it only works if we all do it.”

  • PM: Cabinet Secretary to look into ‘what happened on December 18’

    Cabinet Secretary Simon Case’s investigation will look into “what took place on December 18” rather than other alleged parties.

    “As for other events, dates … as far as I’m aware, to the best of my knowledge we have followed the rules throughout,” he said.

    “Indeed, as far as I’m aware, the rules were followed on December 18 as well.”

  • Sudden emergence of Omicron has spearheaded Plan B – PM

    Boris Johnson said: “It may be we discover over the next few days and weeks that a combination of the booster and two jabs is capable of holding omicron in the way that we want and then we can move forward”

    The PM added: “This is not a deviation from the position that we thought we mind find ourselves. We always thought we would see a spike in disease and infection. 

    “The problem has been this sudden emergence of omicron. Given the potential numbers that omicron might produce we just have to respond today in the way that we are. “

  • PM: Sanctions will be made if staff broke rules

    The PM said if it turns out people did not follow rules at Downing Street, there will “of course” be proper sanctions made.

  • PM: ‘No excuse’ for video showing No.10 aides joking

    Boris Johnson said there was “no excuse” for the video showing No 10 aides joking about an alleged lockdown party, but that Allegra Stratton had been a “fine colleague”.

    “Allegra Stratton has resigned and I wanted to pay tribute to her because she has been, in spite of what everybody has seen, and again, I make no excuses for the frivolity with which the subject was handed in that rehearsal that people saw in that clip,” the Prime Minister told a press briefing.

    “There can be no excuse for it. I can totally understand how infuriating it was.

    “But I want to say that Allegra has been a fine colleague, has achieved a great deal in her time in Government, and was a particularly effective spokesman for Cop26 – she coined the coal, cars, cash, trees agenda and helped to marshal and rally the world behind the agreement.

    “If you’ll forgive me, I wanted to say that because it is a sad day for her, as well as an infuriating event for many people around the county.”

  • Government will look at red list rules

    The Prime Minister also dismissed making changes to the rules that currently require people travelling from red list countries to quarantine in hotels.

    He said the red list was something the Government was looking at, but added: “It’s been very important in the immediate response to Omicron to have very tough border measures to slow the arrival of the variant in this country.”

  • PM dismisses prospect of compulsory vaccinations

    Boris Johnson has dismissed the prospect of mandatory vaccinations.

    He said: “I said right at the beginning of this pandemic… I didn’t want us to have a society and a culture where we forced people to get vaccinated.

    “I don’t think that’s ever been the way we do things in this country.”

    But he admitted there would need to be “a national conversation” about how to protect the public, particularly those who choose not get vaccinated for any reason.

  • We can’t go on indefinitely with restrictions, says PM

    Mr Johnson said: “I don’t believe we can keep going indefinitely with non-pharmaceutical interventions – restrictions on people’s way of life – just because a substantial percentage of the population, sadly, has not got vaccinated.”

  • PM denies rules were broken at alleged No.10 parties

    Facing more questions over alleged Downing Street parties, the prime minister is continuing to deny any rules are broken. 

    Asked why an investigation has only been launched into the 18 December event, Boris Johnson says: “The cabinet secretary will conduct an inquiry into what took place on 18 December.

    “As for the other dates, as far as I’m aware to the best of my knowledge, we have followed the rules throughout.”

  • Vaccine passports to be introduced

    Vaccine passports will also be introduced as part of the move to Plan B.

    He said: “We will also make the NHS Covid pass mandatory for entry into nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather, including unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people.

    “The NHS Covid pass can still be obtained with two doses but we will keep this under review as the boosters roll out.

    “And having taken clinical advice since the emergence of Omicron, a negative lateral flow test will also be sufficient.

    “As we set out in Plan B, 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.”

  • Whitty: Incredibly steep increase in SA cases

    England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said there was an “incredibly steep” increase in cases in South Africa, where Omicron was first detected, and “we are now seeing this translate into increases in hospitalisations”.

    He said there was some data suggesting “around about a 300% increase in hospitalisations over the last week”.

    Prof Whitty told a Downing Street press conference that the data in the UK was clear that Omicron cases here were also going up “incredibly fast now”, with a doubling rate between two and three days.

    “That is an extraordinarily fast rate and you, therefore, can get with very small numbers to very large numbers really quite quickly.”

    Prof Whitty said: “At the moment the spread is in younger people who you would not expect to go into hospital. It’s once you start moving up the ages and into vulnerable groups that you will start to see that.”

  • PM grilled on Xmas party allegations

    The PM has addressed the furore around Allegra Stratton.

    He paid tribute to the former aide and makes no excuses for the “frivolity” of the video.

    He says she is a fine colleague – but has not touched upon the party.

    He says the fundamental point is the British public can see the vital importance of information we are giving.

  • Daily testing to replace isolation for people in contact with infected people

    Boris Johnson said daily testing would be introduced instead of isolation for those who come into contact with infected people.

    He said: “The single biggest thing that every one of us can do is to get our jabs and, crucially, to get that booster as soon as our turn arrives.

    “Let’s do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones this winter, and reduce the pressures on our NHS.”

    He said the Government would “constantly monitor the data” but called on everyone to “play your part” and get a booster vaccine when available.

    The Prime Minister added: “As soon as it becomes clear that the boosters are capable of holding this Omicron variant and we have boosted enough people to do that job of keeping Omicron in equilibrium, then we will be able to move forward as before.”

  • PM: We can’t yet assume how severe Omicron is

    Boris Johnson said: “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 and therefore, sadly, in deaths.

    “That’s why it is now the proportionate and the responsible thing to move to Plan B in England while continuing to work closely with our colleagues in the devolved administrations, so we slow the spread of the virus, buy ourselves the time to get yet more boosters into arms, especially in the older and more vulnerable people.”

  • PM’s four criteria for reviewing measures

    The PM says measures will be reviewed based on four points.

    They are:

    • Efficacy of vaccines and boosters
    • Severity of Omicron
    • Speed of variant spread
    • Rate of hospitalisations
  • Work from home if you can says PM

    The PM said that people should work from home if they can as of Monday.

    Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: “We will reintroduce the guidance to work from home.

    “Employers should use the rest of the week to discuss working arrangements with their employees but from Monday you should work from home if you can.

    “Go to work if you must but work from home if you can.

    “I know this will be hard for many people but by reducing your contacts in the workplace, you will help slow transmission.”

  • Masks must be worn in public venues from Friday

    From Friday facemasks must be warn in most public indoor venues, Boris Johnson has announced.

    Venues include cinemas theatres and restaurants.

  • PM: Time to move to Plan B

    Boris Johnson confirmed it was time to move to “Plan B” of the Government’s coronavirus strategy, with measures including a return to working from home.

    He told a Downing Street press conference: “It has become increasingly clear that Omicron is growing much faster than the previous Delta variant and is spreading rapidly all around the world.”

    While 568 cases had been confirmed in the UK “the true number is certain to be much higher”.

    “Most worryingly, there is evidence that the doubling time of Omicron could currently be between two and three days.”

  • Play your part and get boosted says PM

    Boris has pleaded with the public to get their third booster jab.

    He says this will help us to control and understand the virus better.

  • 21 million boosters now given

    21 million boosters have been given but we need to go further and faster, he says.

    Please get your flu jab too, the PM added.

    Let’s do everything we can to protect our loved ones this year.

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