Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a national No 10 address this afternoon to sell his English winter Covid plan to the public.
Earlier in the day, the government announced its Plan A and Plan B to tackle the pandemic in the coming months.
Plan A is for the state we are in now, while Plan B is introduced when the situation gets worse.
The rules apply in England, with the decentralized nations deciding which rules apply.
Under Plan A, the government will withdraw further powers, but retain some of the powers it believes are “essential” to responding to the pandemic.
The worst of the measures are being held in reserve, including requiring vaccination cards in some locations and renewed legal requirements for face masks in shops and on public transport.
Plan B would also encourage people to work from home. And a lockdown is not ruled out – although it is the absolute last resort.
Daily cases higher than in 2020
Mr Johnson has warned that a higher number of coronavirus cases means that “in some ways our position is actually more challenging today” than it was last September.
The Prime Minister said: “I want you to go back exactly a year and think about where we were last September when schools were declining and the colder months approaching.
“Because in some ways our position is actually more of a challenge today – we have more daily cases, thousands more, but in many other crucial respects we are all, collectively and individually, incomparably better positioned to fight the disease.”
Mandatory vaccination cards not off the table
Mr Johnson stressed that he could not “completely rule out” the possibility of introducing compulsory vaccination records.
“We now see no need to continue with mandatory certification, for example.
“It just doesn’t make sense to completely rule out this type of option now when we have to face the fact that whether or not the store stays open at full capacity still makes all the difference.”
Vaccine “makes the difference”
Mr Johnson said “minor changes can make a bigger difference” to avoiding lockdowns with a high immunity population.
“When you have a big stake with immunity, like now, smaller changes can make a bigger difference and give us peace of mind that we don’t have to revert to the locks of the past.”
He added, “In the meantime, we are convinced of the vaccines that have changed our lives so much.”
He cited that high numbers of people who are vaccinated offer greater protection, but cautioned that those who are not vaccinated are up to nine times more likely to die, depending on age, than if they had both vaccinations.
Mr Johnson said that “we will continue with the coronavirus strategy despite the risks.”
“The result of this vaccination campaign is that we have one of the freest societies and one of the most open economies in Europe.
“That is why we are now sticking to our strategy. In essence, we’re going to move on. “
Traffic light system in case of doubt
The Prime Minister said ministers are considering “simplifying” the traffic light system for international travel.
He said the government was also considering what it could do to “make the burden of testing less burdensome for those returning to the country,” but gave no further details.
When should plan B be broken?
Mr Johnson refused to give specific details on how bad a future wave of Covid-19 would have to get for the government to impose its “Plan B” restrictions.
He said the government’s Plan B had “a number of different shots in the locker”.
“You wouldn’t necessarily play them all at once, on the contrary, you’d want to do things in stages,” he said.
“We are now in a situation where smaller changes in the way we ask people to behave can have a bigger impact because so many people in the population have some level of immunity.”
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