The government set out its Covid-19 Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 in a document published on 14 September.
The main line of defence is now vaccination rather than lockdown. Data continues to show that the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths has weakened significantly.
As closed settings have reopened, students and schools have returned, social distancing and gathering limits have been removed the economy is recovering.
To sustain this economic recovery while protecting the NHS from unsustainable pressure the government’s Plan A includes:
- Build defences through vaccines, antivirals and disease modifying therapeutics
- Identify and isolate positive cases to limit transmission through Test, Trace and Isolate
- Support the NHS and social care to manage pressures and recover services
- Provide clear guidance on how individuals can protect themselves and others
- Help to vaccinate the world and manage border risks
Should the situation change due to vaccination uptake, waning immunity, the rate of return to wide social contact at work, education and new variants which fundamentally alter the governments assessment of risk, the government may resort to Plan B.
Plan B is most likely to come into effect if the winter flu pressures which normally impact the NHS, combine with Covid-19 pressures, threatening to overwhelm the NHS.
The government has said that it will provide prior notice to the public and Parliament ahead of implementing any changes under Plan B. The measures it will consider would aim to control transmission and include:
- Communicate clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and caution required
- Introduce mandatory vaccine-only COVID-status certification in certain settings
- Legally mandate face coverings in certain settings
- Reinstate Working From Home where possible for a limited time period
For a full history of the measures taken over the pandemic, please see our Covid-19 Business Support Page.