How the government's Covid strategy went a bit Craig David in less than Seven Days
The Government doesn't want to adopt 'Plan B', but aren't we already doing it?
The Government's Covid strategy is suddenly looking a bit Craig David.
In less than Seven Days we've gone from Covid stats spiking Monday, NHS chiefs pushing for 'Plan B' Tuesday, government rejecting the calls Wednesday (but putting the onus on the public to basically follow the rules - unofficially), talk of Plan C, Thursday...
The only thing that seems certain, we won't feel chill about Covid come Sunday.
So how did we get here?
We'd say it is as easy as, ABC, but it really isn't.
So, let's unpick the government's latest perplexing, pandemic pivot one step at a time.
All the talk is about 'Plan B', so let's first clarify what 'Plan A' is
Plan A is predominantly a continuation of the status quo. The plan involves vaccinating as many eligible people as possible, rolling out boosters, and keeping society open as normal.
Although, it has a few caveats that are pretty similar to the proposed 'Plan B'.
And Plan B?
On Tuesday, NHS chiefs alarmed at the UK’s rising coronavirus infection rate called for urgent action to tackle the spread.
Under 'Plan B' the Government would make wearing face masks compulsory in some settings, introduce vaccine passports and encourage people to work from home.
Leaked internal documents from Whitehall suggest 1,200 admissions and 250 deaths a day would be the benchmark for introducing the contingency.
On Tuesday, the UK reported 223 new deaths from Covid, which suggests we're getting pretty close.
So, what does the Prime Minister say?
On Thursday afternoon Boris Johnson admitted the level of coronavirus cases is "high" but insisted he is "sticking with our plan".
The PM has stuck stead-fast in not moving on with 'Plan B'.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid also confirmed the government would not be moving on from the current plan.
However, Javid did spend Wednesday urging the public to wear masks
On Wednesday, Javid urged the public to “think about others around them” and wear face masks in some enclosed settings.
“There are many things we can all do, like wearing face coverings in crowded or close spaces," he said.
The comments came mere hours after hundreds of MPs gathered in the House of Commons for Prime Minister’s Questions, the majority maskless.
Asked if he thought the tories’ actions contradicted official advice he admitted: “I think that's a very fair point."
"We've all got a role to play and set an example to set as private individuals as well. It's a very fair point and I'm sure a lot of people have heard you," he added.
Wait a minute... weren't we already being told to wear masks?
From 19 July 2021, there was no longer a legal requirement to wear face coverings in indoor settings or on public transport.
However, masks were still a condition of carriage on Transport for London services, and some restaurants, bars, and shops were also encouraging their use on private premises.
And 'Plan B' says work from home.... but aren't a lot of us are still working at home from the last time the government said work from home?
Toward the end of summer, a report from the think-tank Centre for Cities found that only 15 per cent of Londoners had returned to the office.
A survey for the BBC found most people do not believe workers will return to the office full-time after the pandemic.
Of 1,684 people polled, 70 per cent predicted that workers would "never return to offices at the same rate".
The survey also found 79 per cent of senior business leaders did not expect their employees to return full time.
Leaked reports suggest the Treasury is not keen on advising the public to work from home, the documents revealed by the i newspaper, estimate that working from home costs the economy around £30bn a year
This is a policy at odds with their own: job adverts posted by the Treasury in September revealed that most of the department’s staff will never have to come back into the office full time, and will be free to stay at home for two or three weekdays.
It also doesn’t sit right with a government policy introduced in September. The Department for Business announced plans to make the right to request flexible working a right from day one of a workers’ contract.
It’s safe to say, not everyone has returned to the office.
With most of England’s workers adopting a hybrid model of home/office working, it’s arguable we’re already working from home.
What about vaccine passports?
'Plan B' would give new powers for the government to enforce vaccine passports in certain venues.
A negative covid test or proof of natural immunity would not be accepted.
The events listed are nightclubs and other venues open after 1am with alcohol, dancing, and music.
The plan also includes outdoor, crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees like festivals, or large sports and music events with over 10,000 people.
This isn’t a new policy.
In June, the Government made it a policy for everyone working in care homes to be fully vaccinated under a new law to protect residents. A consultation was also launched in September to mandate vaccination for frontline health care staff.
Earlier in the Summer, Charlie Mullins announced he planned to sack staff who refused the coronavirus vaccine.
Trigger warning. 'Plan C'
Thursday was all about Plan C, the plan that might ruin your plans for Christmas, and we don't just mean that you might not get a turkey.
According to reports in The Daily Telegraph, the 'Plan C' strategy would once again see different households banned from mixing.
Reports suggest if high numbers of booster vaccinations were not sustained, the public would be prevented from mingling.
So, are we headed for another lockdown or what?
There is no suggestion this plan would be reminiscent of previous, full lockdowns; there are no plans to see non-essential shops, gyms, hairdressers, and hospitality forced to close.
However, case rates are rising at an astonishing rate, especially compared to the same point last year.
On Tuesday, the UK reported 45,904 cases of coronavirus. On the same day last year, the UK recorded 14,182.
Similarly, the UK recorded 223 Covid deaths - within 28 days of a positive test; on the same day last year, the UK recorded 192 deaths.
So, what is the government saying... A, B, or C?
As mentioned earlier, the PM made it clear on Thursday that the government would stick steadfast in their 'Plan A' strategy.
But with cases rising at an astonishing rate, it might not be long until new mandates are brought in to relieve the strain on the NHS.
It is worth remembering last year Boris did a spectacular U-turn on Christmas, just days before.
Plan A - we have no answers, so let's carry on as normal.
Plan B - we're backtracking. Again.
Plan C - your Christmas might be f*****. But Boris will get to that later.