What is Plan B for Covid? Government’s contingency plans for winter explained

As speculation mounts that the Government may implement is Covid winter back-up plans sooner rather than, we explain what Covid Plan B is and what it involves.

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Covid cases in have been rising in recent days, as well as the new Covid Omicron variant now being identified in various places in the UK.

The Government is currently continuing with Covid Plan A in response to the number of coronavirus infections, but what is the alternative plan for dealing with rising cases, known as Covid Plan B, and when could it be implemented?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is Covid Plan A?

The Government has set out plans to tackle Covid over the autumn and winter months in England with Plan A, which will be followed if the number of infections remains manageable and the NHS is not overwhelmed.

Plan A focuses on continuing with the vaccine rollout, including offering it to healthy 12 to 15-year-olds, moving forward with the booster jab programme, and encouraging those who have not yet received any doses of the Covid vaccine to receive it.

The plan will also encourage people to get the flu jab, as well as frequent testing for Covid and self-isolation when required.

What is Covid Plan B?

Covid Plan B is the Government’s alternative winter plan for dealing with a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Plan B will be implemented if the health service starts to struggle due to a rise in Covid cases.

Plan B would see the return of measures seen in the UK’s various lockdowns, including making face coverings and vaccine passports mandatory in certain locations, and a return to working from home for those who can.

When could Plan B be introduced?

Parts of Plan B were implemented when face coverings were made mandatory on public transport and shops again on 30 November.

Although Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not confirmed a threshold for triggering Plan B, the plan describes "unsustainable pressure" on the NHS as the trigger.

Government scientific advisers are currently monitoring the number of Covid hospitalisations, any rapid or major changes in deaths or cases, and the overall state of the NHS.

Speculation has mounted on Wednesday that the Government could be set to sign off on Plan B measures soon, with the Guardian reporting ministers convened on Wednesday to discuss it.