| Last updated
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has announced that the government's 'plan B' for dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic this winter includes the return of mandatory face masks, vaccination passports, and asking the public to work from home once again.
Javid spoke to the House of Commons this afternoon to provide an update on how Boris Johnson and the Conservative government plan to respond to the expected surge of coronavirus cases and deaths as the seasons change.
Whilst 'plan A' hinges on the continued success of the NHS-led vaccination programme, the rollout of booster jabs for over-50s, continued testing and tracing, control of international borders, and jabs being offered to schoolchildren between 12 and 15 years of age, he also said that there was a secondary plan in place in the event that the first doesn't have the desired effect.
That secondary plan would see several familiar things from last year, including the mandatory wearing of face masks and working from home, brought back.
On top of that Javid said that the back-up plan would also see the government communicating 'the need for caution' to the public urgently.
However, the Health Secretary made no mention of a return to the lockdowns that saw much of the country confined to their homes and businesses closed last year.
Addressing MPs, Javid said: "We have seen how quickly this virus can adapt and change so we have prepared a Plan B of contingency measures that we can call upon only if they are needed and supported by the data to prevent unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
"These measures would be communicating clearly and urgently the need for caution. Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings."
He added: "Whilst we're not going ahead with mandatory vaccine-only Covid-status certification now, we will be holding that power in reserve. As well as these three steps, we'd consider a further measure of asking people to work from home if they can for a limited time if that is supported by the data.
"Any responsible government must prepare for all eventualities, and although these measures are not an outcome anyone wants, it's one we need to be ready for just in case."
Javid also stated that it was 'highly likely' that frontline NHS staff, as well as those within wider social care settings, would need to have Covid-19 and seasonal flu vaccinations in order to work.
He said: "We've also launched a consultation on protecting vulnerable patients by making Covid-19 and flu vaccinations a condition of deployment for frontline healthcare staff and wider social care workers in England.
"We are already making this a condition of deployment for people in CQC registered adult care homes.
"And although we are keeping an open mind and we won't be making a final decision until we fully consider the results of the consultation, I believe that it is highly likely that frontline NHS staff and those working in wider social care settings will also have to be vaccinated to protect those that are around them, and that this will be an important step in protecting those at greatest risk."
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read