Masks in public, Covid passports and working from home could return, says Javid

By Neil Shaw

Health Secretary for England Sajid Javid says wearing masks in public and advice to work from home could return this winter in a 'Plan B' for dealing with Covid.

The Government could also bring in Covid passports making people prove they are vaccinated to get access to large events and venues.

Mr Javid was delivering a statement in the House of Commons this afternoon to update how the Government plans to deal with the coronavirus pandemic this winter.

He said Plan A is to remove some of the coronavirus rules currently in place - and to cautiously reopen borders for foreign travel.

But he said the Government needs a Plan B in case Covid levels get worse.

Mr Javid told MPs contingency measures to cope with a Covid-19 surge in winter could include mandatory use of face coverings and the introduction of Covid passes.

That would mean a return to wearing masks in shops, pubs, restaurants and on public transport.

Covid passports allow people to prove they have had two jabs - and could be used to get in to everywhere from football matches and festivals to pubs and nightclubs.

The Government is also to vaccinate all children over 12, and is to give a third jab to everyone over 50.

Sajid Javid said the Government will remove more of its powers but retain some it deems “essential” for responding to the pandemic.

He told MPs: “This includes expiring more of the powers in the Coronavirus Act. So, for example, those powers directing the temporary closure of educational institutions.

“The remaining provisions will be those that are critical to the Government’s response to the pandemic. For example, making sure that the NHS is properly resourced and supporting statutory sick pay for those self-isolating.

“The plan before the House today is our Plan A – a comprehensive plan to steer this country through the autumn and winter.”

Sajid Javid went on to outline the “Plan B” of contingency measures, including working from home and face coverings.

He told MPs: “We have seen how quickly this virus can adapt and change so we have prepared a Plan B of contingency measures that we can call upon only if they are needed and supported by the data to prevent unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

“These measures would be communicating clearly and urgently the need for caution. Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings.”

A howl of anguish could be heard at this point from Conservative former minister Sir Desmond Swayne.

Mr Javid went on: “Whilst we’re not going ahead with mandatory vaccine-only Covid-status certification now, we will be holding that power in reserve. As well as these three steps, we’d consider a further measure of asking people to work from home if they can for a limited time if that is supported by the data.

“Any responsible government must prepare for all eventualities, and although these measures are not an outcome anyone wants, it’s one we need to be ready for just in case.”

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