politics

Government introduces Plan B in the face of surging Omicron variant



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he government introduced its Plan B – working from home, more masks and covid health certificates – in the face of the Omicron variant with the Prime Minister insisting it was the best way to guarantee a “normal” Christmas.

Speaking at a press conference from Downing Street, Mr Johnson warned the new strain is “growing much faster” than Delta, with cases potentially doubling every two or three days as he strengthened England’s rules.

He urged people to “exercise due caution” but insisted Christmas parties and nativities could go ahead and said there was no reason to take children out of school.

But his calls on the public to have booster jabs and co-operate with the plan ran the risk of being over-shadowed as he came under pressure over allegations of a rule-breaching festive bash in No 10 last year.

Even as he announced mandatory mask wearing will be extended to indoor public venues including cinemas, theatres and places of worship and the guidance to work from home where possible will return on Monday, he faced questions about how the public would react amid anger over allegations staff broke Covid rules in a party on December 18 last year.

The Prime Minister deflected queries he had brought forward the announcement to divert attention from the row and the leaked video showing No 10 staff laughing about restrictions after the alleged party, which on Wednesday forced the resignation of Government aide Allegra Stratton.

“Just imagine the counterfactual, colleagues say, or people say, we’re somehow making this announcement to coincide with events in politics well actually imagine if this step were to be delayed because of political events of one kind or another, what would people say then? You’ve got to act to protect public health when you’ve got the clear evidence,” he said.

The plan also includes the use of NHS Covid passes, which can be obtained by having two vaccines or a negative lateral flow test, and will be needed for entry into nightclubs and other large venues from December 15.

Mr Johnson added: “The best way to ensure we all have a Christmas as close to normal as possible is to get on with Plan B, irritating though it may be it is not a lockdown.”

The press conference announcing Plan B

/ Getty Images



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