Labour calls for Plan B restrictions amid rising Covid cases

·3-min read

Labour has urged the government to introduce Plan B to tackle rising rates of coronavirus. 

The UK has some of the highest daily case numbers in the world and deaths from the virus are rising to levels previously seen last March.

While the government has insisted it is sticking with Plan A, which is to protect the population through vaccinations, they have also touted a Plan B which involves reinstating working-from-home guidance and the mandatory use of face masks.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said that Labour’s position was to follow the science. 

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show she said: “Labour as a responsible opposition have always said that we would follow the science, and we’ve seen today that Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) are saying that some aspects of Plan B, like wearing masks on public transports and in shops, and also working from home more flexibly should be introduced.

“I think the first thing is the Government have got to do more to make Plan A work.

“If the scientists are saying work from home and masks, we should do that. So get A working better because the vaccination programme has been stalling, introduce those parts of Plan B.

“But there are also things not in A or B that need to be done, like paying statutory sick pay from day one and also better ventilation in public spaces.”

Watch: Starmer calls for 'common sense' Plan B Covid restrictions

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resisted pleas from health leaders for tighter restrictions despite the rising number of cases.

Professor Adam Finn, who is on the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), warned against complacency in what he said is a “worsening” situation.

He said people need to be testing themselves, wearing masks and avoiding crowds in enclosed spaces in order to prevent “a real meltdown”.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this week that new cases could reach 100,000 a day, but Downing Street has insisted there is still spare capacity in the NHS and that Plan B will only be activated if it comes under “significant pressure”.

Asked if it is time to bring in Plan B to tackle coronavirus, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said “at the moment the data does not suggest that we should be immediately moving to Plan B”.

He told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “Well, the Prime Minister actually just said that we’re looking at the data all the time, as you would expect us to.

“We’re monitoring everything, but at the moment the data does not suggest that we should be immediately moving to Plan B, but of course we will keep an eye on that and the plans are ready.”

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said Plan A is “working”.

The Government has launched a media blitz encouraging people to get a booster jab, and is encouraging those not yet vaccinated to do so.

Prof Finn said that while vaccines are very effective at stopping people from getting seriously ill, they are not so effective at stopping infections altogether or stopping the virus from spreading.

Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), has said case numbers and death rates are currently “unacceptable”.

He said measures such as working from home and mask-wearing are “so important” as part of efforts to control the spread of Covid.

Prof Openshaw also advised people to “take matters into your own hands”, telling BBC Breakfast on Saturday: “Don’t wait necessarily for Government policy.”

Meanwhile, Dr Katherine Henderson, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said people need to try to minimise the need for healthcare resources.

She told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips On Sunday: “We didn’t go into the pandemic in a great place in emergency care. We didn’t have enough beds then.”

Watch: Labour calls for Covid Plan B restrictions now

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