On the Tuesday 14th September 2021, the Prime Minister set out the government’s plan to manage Covid throughout Autumn and Winter, with Plan A using continued vaccination and booster roll outs.
The Test, Trace and Isolate programme will continue its important work, with symptomatic PCR testing continuing throughout the Autumn and Winter.
Lateral flow tests will also remain free of charge but at a later stage, as our response to the virus changes, this will end and individuals and businesses will be expected to bear the cost. The government will engage widely on this before any changes are made.
The legal obligation to self-isolate for those who have tested positive and their unvaccinated contacts will continue, and the financial support payment for those self-isolating on certain benefits will continue in its current format until the end of March.
The public will be offered continued guidance on how to protect themselves and each other – including letting fresh air in, wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed place where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, getting testing and self-isolating if required.
The border policy will remain in place and genomic sequencing capability will be increased to help scientists update vaccines to defeat new variants.
Autumn and Winter could pose renewed challenges and it is difficult to predict the path of the virus with certainty. There will be a range of ‘Plan B’ measures kept under review to help control transmission of the virus while minimising economic and social damage.
Plan B would include:
- Introducing mandatory vaccine only Covid status certification in certain, riskier settings.
- Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings, such as public transport and shops.
- Communicating clearly and urgently to the public if the risk level increases.
- The government could also consider asking people to work from home again if necessary, but a final decision on this would be made at the time, dependent on the latest data – recognising the extra disruption this causes to individuals and businesses.
Ministers would only decide to implement these measures if necessary, and if a range of metrics and indicators mean the NHS is at risk of becoming overwhelmed.