Autumn and Winter Plan for England

In the House of Commons Health Secretary Sajid Javid set out the Autumn and Winter Plan for England

This was followed by a press briefing by Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressing the public. The plan sets out a Plan A scenario and outlines a Plan B contingency plan for England that would only be enacted if the data suggests that further actions are necessary to protect the NHS.

The 5 pillars outlined for Plan A include;

1.      Building our defences through pharmaceutical interventions: including maximising vaccine uptake among those who are eligible and not taken up the offer yet, offering booster doses to those who received vaccinations in phase 1 of the vaccine programme, offering a first dose to those aged 12-15.  Antivirals and therapeutics are already being used, and teams are researching further drugs that may assist.

2.      Identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission: PCR testing for symptomatic and contacts of cases will be available free of charge. Regular asymptomatic testing will also continue, focused on those who are not vaccinated or are on front line settings. Contact tracing will continue. Support will remain in place for those forced to self-isolate.

3.      Supporting the NHS and Social Care: managing pressures and recovering services. Linked to the announcement of further funding announced last week to clear the backlog of appointments.

4.      Advising people on how to protect themselves and others: For businesses the Government will continue to provide up-to-date Working Safely guidance on how employers can reduce the risks in their workplace. They are encouraging the public to let fresh air in when meeting indoors, wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed settings, getting tested and self isolating, staying home if they feel unwell, washing hands regularly and using the NHS COVID-19 app.

5.      Pursuing an international approach: playing a part in the global effort towards vaccination, and keeping strong defence at the border. The Government will shortly set out a revised framework for international travel, in advance of the next formal checkpoint review, with a deadline of 1 October.

Plan B

If the data suggests the NHS is likely to come under unsustainable pressure, the Government has prepared a Plan B for England. The Government’s Plan B prioritises measures which can help control transmission of the virus while seeking to minimise economic and social impacts. This includes:

  • Communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and with it the need to behave more cautiously.
  • Introducing mandatory vaccine-only COVID-status certification in certain settings.
  • Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings.

If Plan B is implemented, at that point the NHS COVID Pass will change to display full vaccination only (exemptions will continue to apply). The Government expects that mandatory vaccine-only certification would be introduced for visitors to the following venues:

  • All nightclubs;
  • Indoor, crowded settings with 500 or more attendees where those attendees are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as music venues or large receptions;
  • Outdoor, crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees where those attendees are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as outdoor festivals; and
  • Any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia.
  • There are some settings that will be exempt from requirements to use the NHS COVID Pass, including communal worship, wedding ceremonies, funerals and other commemorative events, protests and mass participation sporting events.

The Government would seek to give businesses at least one week’s notice before mandatory vaccine certification came into force.

Vaccine Booster Plan

In addition the Government announced a plan to provide vaccination booster jabs from next week. The programme will be rolled out to the same priority groups as previously. This means care home residents, health and social care workers, people aged over 50, those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19, adult carers, and adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals will be prioritised.

Correct as of 16 September 2021