'Plan C' Covid plan has already been drawn up
On the day 'Plan B' comes into force, the conversation moves to 'Plan C'
The UK Government is reportedly considering tougher 'Plan C' restrictions, just days after Boris Johnson announced 'Plan B' measures would come into force.
Reports on Friday suggested that care homes could be hit with a three-visitor limit ahead of Christmas, that masks could be made compulsory in bars and restaurants, and that patrons may need to 'check in' with the NHS Covid app. Vaccine passports may also be extended to more venues.
MailOnline quoted a government source as saying it was "very likely" care home residents could be banned from seeing more than three visitors over the festive period to prevent another outbreak in the sector.
Number 10 has said "no final decisions" have been made, with the PM's official spokesperson telling Sky News that officials are "keeping a very close eye" on the situation and have a "responsibility to protect residents".
"The guidance as it stands makes clear that visits should be supported and we recognise that visits are a vital part for residents to maintain health, wellbeing, and quality of life," they said.
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When questioned directly about 'Plan C' the spokesperson said there were no plans to "go beyond what we've already set out".
"Obviously we need to keep the characteristics of this variant under review, and we would act if necessary, but there's no plans to go beyond what we set out."
However, the spokesperson did hint that other options are always available. "As a responsible government, of course, you would expect us to... we have an array, already, of options available to us in terms of what measures we can take to mitigate a growth of any variant or virus."
Rumours of 'Plan C' come as Michael Gove is set to hold an emergency COBRA meeting on Friday afternoon - as the first part of the government's 'Plan B' measures come into force. Gove is to meet alongside the first ministers and deputy first ministers of the devolved administrations, amid fears the Omicron variant may spark the biggest wave yet.
The UK Health Security Agency identified a further 249 Omicron cases on Thursday, almost twice the number announced the day before, bringing the UK total to 817.
On Friday, masks became compulsory in indoor settings such as theatres, cinemas, and churches. New work-from-home guidance will come into effect on Monday. On Tuesday, MPs will vote on the introduction of vaccine passports for nightclubs and large venues.