Masks might be legally mandated again, Sajid Javid announces
Boris Johnson is set to hold a press conference at 4pm Tuesday
Sajid Javid has announced that face mask rules may return this winter as he outlined the pillars of the government's plan to tackle Covid in the months ahead.
The health secretary said people should be "wearing a face mask in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you don't normally meet" this winter.
Javid was speaking in the House of Commons ahead of a press conference by Prime Minister Boris Johnson due at 4pm.
He said the government has created a "plan B" in case things get worse, which included the possible "legal mandating for face coverings in certain settings" and working from home guidance being reinstated.
Javid said if the data shows the NHS is likely to come under "unsustainable pressure" as a result of the pandemic again, the government will:
- make masks legally mandatory in certain settings
- ask people to work from home if they can, for a limited period
- mandatory vaccine certificates for nightclubs, indoor settings with 500+ attendees likely to be close, outdoor settings with 4,000+ people, and any setting with 10,000+ attendees
"Any responsible government must prepare for all eventualities," Javid told MPs, some of whom made their disapproval quite clear.
Javid said that it was also "highly likely" that frontline NHS workers will have to be vaccinated as a condition of employment, but said a final decision had not yet been made.
The Covid booster programme would begin next week, he said, and PCR tests will continue to be available free of charge, as will symptom-free lateral flow tests.
Johnson is expected to announce that vaccine passports will not be required to enter nightclubs or large venues; a fourth lockdown will be a "last resort" and the travel traffic light system will be amended.