Thursday, 16 December 2021

My support for Plan B

 As part of its COVID-19 Autumn and Winter Plan 2021, the government outlined a set of measures that would be brought in if the data suggests the NHS is likely to come under further pressure. With early analysis suggesting COVID cases relating to the new Omicron variant could be doubling as rapidly as every 2.5 to 3 days, I fully support the government’s decision to move to Plan B. This means:


      Legally mandating face masks in most public indoor venues, with exceptions where it’s not practical, including while eating, drinking, exercising or singing.


      Reintroducing guidance to work from home if you can.


      Implementing daily rapid testing for fully vaccinated contacts of COVID cases, with isolation required only for people who test positive.


      Requiring a negative lateral flow test or proof of vaccination through the NHS COVID pass - mandatory for nightclubs, 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



I support these measures as they will help slow the spread of the variant, reduce the chances of the NHS facing unsustainable pressure, and buy time to deliver more vaccine boosters. As we have learnt from past practice and from scientific evidence, face coverings, working from home and frequent testing are all effective ways of reducing virus transmission. In my view, the Plan B measures are justified and proportionate.


Whilst the government will continue to look closely at all the emerging data, vaccines remain our best line of defence against COVID. This government has successfully delivered over 100 million vaccine doses in England, and is determined to protect the nation by offering everyone in England aged 18 and over a booster jab by the end of the month. I encourage everyone to book their booster jab at the earliest opportunity, or to book their first vaccination if they have not yet done so.


Specifically, the NHS COVID pass is not a vaccine passport. The proposed rules, which I voted for, specifically allow for a negative Lateral Flow Test as an alternative to proof of jabs. If you go to a higher risk destination such as a large event or a nightclub, I think it is sensible and proportionate in the face of Omicron spreading rapidly, to take precautions to stop the spread of the virus.


The goal of these measures is to stop lockdowns. Sensible measures taken now - as other countries around the world, of differing political persuasions, are taking – will help control the spread and impact of Omicron on our NHS and the population. Against a highly infectious disease, vaccinations are a collective defence.


To enable us all to enjoy this Christmas with our family and loved ones, the single most important thing we all can do is get boosted. The evidence is overwhelming that a third dose is required to get the best protection from Omicron, and not being vaccinated seriously raises the chances of serious illness from COVID.


Please persuade your friends and family to get vaccinated and get the booster.