What does 'Plan B' mean? Government's latest Covid restrictions explained

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Hackney Council is encouraging residents to follow the government’s new Covid restrictions - commonly known as ‘Plan B’ - some of which will come into force from tomorrow. 

  • Face masks will become compulsory in most public indoor venues, such as cinemas and theatres, but not hospitality venues such as pubs or restaurants, from tomorrow (Friday 10 December). Masking-wearing in shops, businesses, Council buildings, as well as on public transport, has been compulsory since 30 November.
  • People are being asked to work from home, if they can, from Monday 13 December. 
  • An NHS Covid Pass - which demonstrates proof of two vaccine doses - or a negative lateral flow test will be mandatory for entry into settings where large crowds gather, such as nightclubs, from Wednesday 15 December.

The government has said that the stricter measures are to slow the spread of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant; ease the pressure on the NHS; and buy more time to deliver more vaccine boosters. 

The Council is also reminding residents of these four steps to staying safe

  • Stay home: if you feel unwell and have symptoms, stay at home and take a PCR test.
  • Stay safe: wash your hands regularly, wear a mask in public spaces, keep your distance, ventilate spaces you share with others and work from home if you can.
  • Get vaccinated: get your Covid-19 and flu vaccinations for maximum protection.
  • Get tested: Take regular lateral flow tests to ensure you aren’t spreading the virus to those around you.

Book your vaccination or booster appointment online or find a walk-in clinic.

Get lateral flow devices free of charge from local pharmacies.

Get your Covid Pass here.

People aged 40 and over can get a booster vaccine three months after their second dose. The booster will soon be extended to everyone over 18 who has had their second dose at least three months previously.

Dr Sandra Husbands, Director of Public Health for Hackney, said: “The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is spreading quite rapidly and the Delta variant is already causing a rise in hospitalisations up and down the country. We must adhere to this government guidance, in order to slow transmission, prevent illness and help prevent our health services from becoming overwhelmed. 

“Vaccines, testing and face masks remain our best lines of defence against the virus. The vast majority of people hospitalised as a result of Covid-19 - from all variants - are those who are unvaccinated. That is why I urge all residents who have not been vaccinated to do so now; or get your booster if you are eligible.

“Many people do not show symptoms of Covid-19. So, I’m also continuing to ask everyone to test themselves frequently - at least twice a week and, particularly, before entering a high-risk setting involving people you wouldn’t normally come into contact with, or when visiting a vulnerable person.”

The NHS Covid Pass rule applies to unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and any event with 10,000 or more attendees.

Cllr Chris Kennedy, Cabinet Member for Health, Adult Social Care and Leisure
No one wants to see further restrictions to their lifestyles, especially so close to Christmas. However, we accept these measures are necessary to slow the spread of the virus, help stop people from getting sick, and protect Homerton Hospital and other local health and social care services from suffering unsustainable pressure. The Council will continue to deliver our services to residents, which we know are vital to our residents and communities, whilst protecting our staff.

We know the owners of larger venues in Hackney may be worried about how these changes will affect business. Many small and medium-sized businesses will also be worried about how the government’s changes may reduce customer demand. We’ll do everything we can to help them understand and implement the changes, and provide support where possible.

I’d also like to remind business owners that they can apply for funding from the Council’s £500,000 Hackney High Street and Town Centres Fund, which aims to help small businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Further funding will be made available in the coming months to support those making changes or adaptations to their business that will enable them to develop and thrive post-pandemic.
Cllr Chris Kennedy, Cabinet Member for Health, Adult Social Care and Leisure