Plan B will stay in place but no further restrictions will be brought in by government to cope with the spread of Omicron.
Plan B involves working from home if possible; wearing a face mask in most public indoor venues, including theatres and cinemas and now schools, and use of the NHS Covid Pass 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.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tonight (January 4) that he would be recommending the continuation of the measures but said evidence shows that the variant is milder and it is not resulting in the same intensive care neds as previous waves.
Cases are continuing to rise at record rates with 200,000 positive cases in one day last week – double that of the previous highest figure.
Today 218,000 positive cases were confirmed but some of that figure comes from delayed data due to the festive period.
The PM urged people to get their booster jab saying: “Together with the Plan B measures we have a chance to ride out Omicron without shutting down our country once again, we can keepour schools and businesses open and we can find a way to live with this virus.”
However, he said the weeks ahead would be “challenging” and some services would be disrupted by staff absences.
Lateral Flow Tests will be provided for critical workers, ranging from those in food processing to Border Force staff, and military help would be brought in for those NHS Trusts most under pressure as the service moved to a “war footing.”
He said: “We’re increasing NHS capacity by building onsite Nightingale hospitals, as well as creating 2,500 virtual beds where people can be safely treated at home.
“We’ve bought more antivirals per person than anywhere else in Europe those are the tablets which reduce your chances of going to hospital once you’ve caught Covid.
“We’re mobilising our volunteers – the emerging territorial army of the NHS –and we’re working to identify those NHS Trusts which are most likely to need actual military support, so this can be prepared now.
“As our NHS moves to a war footing, I will be recommending to Cabinet tomorrow that we continue with Plan B, because the public have responded and changed their behaviour, your behaviour, buying valuable time to get boosters in arms and help the NHS to cope with the Omicron wave. So please carry on observing those measures for now.”
He added: “There are still almost 9 million people eligible, who haven’t had their booster, And it’s absolutely heart-breaking that as many as 90 per cent of those in intensive care with Covid have not had their booster, and over 60 per cent of those in Intensive Care, who have Covid, have not had any vaccination at all.
“People are dying needlessly because they haven’t had their jabs, they haven’t had that booster.And there are 2 million booster slots available this week alone.
“It’s already the case that to travel to some countries you need a booster to be considered fully vaccinated, and it’s likely that within weeks this will increasingly become the norm. So if you haven’t done it already, get yourself boosted this month.”