The Autumn and Winter Plan relating to how Government will deal with Coronavirus has been published. The key components of the plan include:
- Building defences through pharmaceutical interventions: vaccines, antivirals and disease modifying therapeutics. This includes maximising vaccine uptake among those who are eligible and not taken up the offer yet, offering booster doses to those who received vaccinations in phase 1 of the vaccine programme, offering a first dose to those aged 12-15.
- Identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission: Test, Trace and Isolate. PCR testing for symptomatic and contacts of cases will be available free of charge. Regular asymptomatic testing will also continue, focused on those who are not vaccinated or are on front line settings. Contact tracing will continue. Support will remain in place for those forced to self-isolate.
- Advising people on how to protect themselves and others: The Government will continue to provide businesses with up-to-date Working Safely guidance on how employers can reduce the risks in their workplace. They are encouraging the public to let fresh air in when meeting indoors, wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed settings, getting tested and self-isolating, staying home if they feel unwell, washing hands regularly and using the NHS COVID-19 app.
Government says it is hoped that by undertaking the five measures listed above, COVID levels can be controlled over the winter period. However, if this does not work, a series of contingency measures can be imposed. These include:
- Introducing mandatory vaccine-only COVID-status certification in certain settings.
- Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings.
- Changing the NHS COVID Pass to display full vaccination only (exemptions will continue to apply).
The Government expects that mandatory vaccine-only certification would be introduced for visitors to the following venues:
- Indoor, crowded settings with 500 or more attendees where those attendees are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as music venues or large receptions;
- Outdoor, crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees where those attendees are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as outdoor festivals; and
- Any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia.
- There are some settings that will be exempt from requirements to use the NHS COVID Pass, including communal worship, wedding ceremonies, funerals and other commemorative events, protests and mass participation sporting events