England Returns to Plan A as Regulations on Face Coverings and COVID Passes Change Today

From today, January 27th, all measures under Plan B have been lifted, meaning face coverings are no longer mandatory in indoor venues

COVID Passes are now voluntary for large events and nightclubs and people are no longer being advised to work from home. It comes as hospital admissions stabilise, Omicron infections decline and the number of people in intensive care with COVID-19 continues to fall.

Plan B measures were initially introduced on 8 December 2021 to slow the spread of the Omicron variant and buy time for scientists to better understand it and get more jabs in arms. The Get Boosted Now appeal was launched, bringing the date for all adults to be offered a booster to the New Year.

This target was reached, and over 37 million boosters have now administered. The vaccination programme has succeeded in reducing the risk of severe infection and hospitalizations, easing pressure on the NHS. Hospital admissions have now stabilized and the number of people in intensive care units with COVID-19 continues to fall.

As of today the lifting of Plan B means:

  • mandatory COVID-19 certification will end, but venues may choose to use the NHS COVID Pass voluntarily;
  • face coverings will not be required by law in indoor venues;
  • local directors of public health are still able to recommend face coverings in communal areas only in education settings within their area, but only where the department and public health experts judge the measures to be proportionate – this is a temporary measure;
  • infection prevention control guidance continues to require face coverings be worn in health and care settings, including primary care and pharmacies;
  • it is suggested that people wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces where they might come into contact with people they do not normally meet;
  • it is still a legal requirement for those with COVID-19 to self-isolate for 10 days with the option to end self-isolation after 5 full days following two negative LFD tests.

Strongest Vaccine Defense

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: The tireless efforts of NHS and care staff, and the army of volunteers, as well as the phenomenal response of the British public means over 37 million people have been boosted. I want to thank everyone who has come forward to Get Boosted Now.

Our vaccines, testing and antivirals ensure we have some of the strongest defences in Europe and are allowing us to cautiously return to Plan A, restoring more freedoms to this country.

As we learn to live with Covid we need to be clear eyed that this virus is not going away so if you haven’t already – please come forward for your first, second or booster jab.

Today’s changes follows a review last week of data including infections, vaccine efficacy, COVID-19 pressures on the NHS, workforce absences, public behaviours, and views from the scientific community.

Welcome Step

Taking to social media UKHospitality CEO Katie Nicholls said;” Plan B measures come to an end in England today, huge and welcome step to allow hospitality and tourism recovery. Looking forward to working with the government on the next step setting out how we live with variance without economic constraints and with Das to remove final restrictions”

Manchester’s night-time czar Sasha Lord said: “Massive week ahead, we are far from out of this you think hospitality is back to normal you are wrong there is a long way to go, to relax would be a huge mistake”

British Beer and Pub Association CEO Emma McClarkin said: “Cheersto the end of Plan B however there is much more to be done to secure the long-term survival of our much to loved the breweries”.

Vaccines continue to be the main defence against COVID-19 with data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showing a booster is 92% effective in preventing hospitalisation from two weeks after it is administered and is 65% to 75% effective against symptomatic infection from Omicron. More than 83% of people aged over 12 in the UK have had their second dose and of those eligible, 81% have received their booster.