Since the Omicron variant was first discovers, it has become clear that it is necessary to move to Plan B in England following the rapid spread of the variant in the UK. The most recent data suggests that the Omicron has a very high growth rate and is spreading rapidly here in the UK.
As we have seen during previous waves, a sharp rise in cases can lead to a rapid rise in hospitalisations, which leads to pressure on the NHS. Data for South Africa suggests a rapid increase in hospitalisations.
Even if a small percentage of omicron infections result in hospitalisation, the infectiousness of this new variant means that many more are likely to be infected and even a small proportion of a much larger number could overwhelm hospitals, crowding out people with other medical needs.
Plan B will come into force while more data on vaccine efficacy and disease severity is assessed. It will slow the spread of the variant and reduce chances of the NHS coming under pressure, while buying more time to deliver more boosters.
Plan B restrictions will mean that face coverings will become compulsory in most public indoor venues, such as theatres, cinemas and places of worship, with exemptions where this is not practical such as when you are eating, drinking or exercising. From Monday 13th December, those who can are advised to work from home.
Furthermore, from Wednesday 15th December, and subject to parliamentary approval, the NHS Covid Pass on the NHS App will become mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather. Full guidance on these measures will be placed on Gov.uk in the coming days.
You can read more about last nights announcement from the Prime Minister here: Prime Minister confirms move to Plan B in England - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).