Lancashire public health chiefs welcome Covid Plan B move

Lancashire’s Directors of Public Health have urged the public to take the threat of Omicron seriously, as they welcome the government’s decision to move to Plan B.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that England will move to Plan B measures, as outlined in the Covid-19 Autumn/Winter Plan.

It comes as Omicron is spreading rapidly across the UK – with several cases confirmed in Lancashire and more expected.

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As seen in previous waves, a swift rise in cases can lead to a rapid rise in hospitalisations.

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council

The move to Plan B is intended to help slow the spread of the Omicron variant and reduce the chances of the NHS coming under unsustainable pressure, while buying time to deliver more boosters.

While it is likely there is some level of reduced vaccine effectiveness against Omicron, it is still too early to determine the extent of this, and more time is needed to study the variant.

Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council, said: “Getting vaccinated is still the best thing people can do to protect themselves. I strongly encourage anyone who is eligible for a first, second or booster vaccination to get it without delay.

“At this moment in time vaccinations alone are sadly not enough, which is why every one of us needs to take personal responsibility by following the national Covid-19 advice.

“We must take the threat of Omicron seriously.

“It is understandable that people want to get back to normality after living with Covid-19 for so long, but only through collective action can we overcome this latest setback.”

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Dr Arif Rajpura, Director of Public Health for Blackpool Council, added: “For some time now I have been recommending that people exercise more caution than was mandated – like wearing face coverings on public transport and in crowded places and working from home where possible.

“The arrival of Omicron means it is more important than ever that people take these basic precautions.

“I think the Government’s decision to move to Plan B is the right one and support all the measures that are outlined within it.”

The new measures mean that from December 10, mandatory face covering rules are extended to most indoor settings but will not include hospitality settings.

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From December 13, people will be advised to work from home if they can. Anyone who cannot work from home should continue to travel to their workplace.

Finally, from December 15, people will need to show their NHS COVID Pass to enter places where large crowds gather, such as nightclubs or large sporting events. This will mean a requirement to show vaccination status or a recent negative Covid test to enter certain high-risk settings.