Winter COVID-19 Plan
Read the full document here - www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-winter-plan
- The second coronavirus peak that we have seen around the world shows us all that we are going to be dealing with the coronavirus for the long-term.
- That is why, during this period of national restrictions, we have been working on a long-term, balanced approach which protects the NHS, keeps children in school and lets the economy get moving again. At the heart of that long-term and balanced approach is a return to the regional tier system. Adherence to these tiers is how we avoid another national lockdown.
- And whereas Labour want to keep the economy on ice and working people in suspended animation – we want to get things moving again. That’s because we understand that national lockdowns are not cost-free. Not only do they have an enormous cost in terms of jobs and small businesses, they have a profound impact on peoples’ mental health and loneliness.
- Only by keeping the virus under control through December, even when national restrictions fall away, can we be able to see friends and family over Christmas in a relatively safe way. As mass testing and vaccines are rolled out through winter and into the spring, the need for even localised restrictions will gradually reduce – and life can begin to return closer to normality.
Using the national lockdown to put us in the best possible position:
- Preparing to rollout vaccinations as soon as they are found to be safe and effective. Next month, the vaccination programme will begin. We have secured access to 355 million vaccine doses, and the NHS is gearing up to lead a national vaccination programme.
- Making progress on mass testing, to help reduce the need for restrictions as a vaccine is rolled out. We now have capacity for 500,000 tests a day, and recently announced the creation of new two mega-labs, that will add a further 600,000 tests a day to the UK’s capacity when they are operation. We will roll out mass testing to 13 million people before Christmas, allowing us to identify and isolate people who don’t have symptoms but are unwittingly spreading the virus.
Returning to the localised approach:
- Ending the national restrictions on 2 December – true to our word. Thanks to the progress we’ve made on vaccines and mass testing, the stay at home order will end, collective worship can resume, and people will no longer be limited to seeing one other person in outdoor public spaces.
- Re-introducing the localised approach after 2 December, in order to keep the virus under control. The virus is still present, and that means we need to keep some level of restrictions on a local level. If these are not in place then it could get out of control again before vaccines and mass testing have an impact. That would put at risk all our work to date. Our principle remains it’s right to target the toughest measures in the areas where the virus is most prevalent.
- Making changes to the previous tiered system:
- The 10pm closing time for hospitality has been modified to last orders at 10pm and closing time at 11pm. This allows customers to depart in a staggered way and provides greater flexibility.
- Across all tiers, non-essential retail will be able to remain open and operate in a Covid-Secure way.
- Gyms will be allowed to remain open.
- Spectator sport can resume with capacity limits and social distancing, providing more consistency with indoor performances in theatres and concert halls.
- Strengthening the tiers in order to keep the virus under control. The scientific advice is also clear that, while the previous tiers reduced the R rate, they were not quite enough to bring R below 1. The tiers therefore need to be toughened in some ways to keep the virus under control:
- In tier 1, we will encourage people to minimise travel and reinforce the importance of working from home where possible.
- In tier 2, alcohol may only be served in hospitality settings as part of a substantial meal.
- In tier 3, hospitality will close except for delivery and takeaway, and indoor entertainment venues must also close.
- Publishing clear indicators to determine which tier an area enters into, and how areas can move between tiers thereafter. These tiers are designed to keep the R below 1 and therefore allow areas to move down the tiers, rather than simply escalate as the epidemic grows. We are publishing clear indicators which will determine the tier each area will go into on 2 December and how areas move between tiers thereafter.
- Prioritising tier 3 areas for mass testing. We know how frustrating it has been for people living in areas which have had some form of restrictions since the summer, and will therefore prioritise tier 3 areas for the rollout of mass testing. Up to 13 million people will be offered two tests each before Christmas.
Comprehensive set of financial support can be found here - www.andycarter.org.uk/business-support
Workers in any part of the UK can retain their job, even if their employer cannot afford to pay them, and be paid at least 80% of their salary up to £2500 a month. The flexibility of the current CJRS will be retained to allow employees to continue to work where they can.
Employers small or large, charitable or non-profit are eligible and because more businesses will need to close, they will now be asked to pay just National Insurance and Pensions contributions for their staff during the month of November – making this more generous than support currently on offer.
The Job Support Scheme will not be introduced until after Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends Wherever you live, you may be able to get financial help through the:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- Job Support Scheme (from 1st November)
- New Style Employment and Support Allowance
Testing is the key to unlock the puzzle of coronavirus, and will be how we defeat it in the end, and thanks to the ordinary efforts of those who have worked tirelessly to increase capacity, we are now well over capacity of 500,000 tests a day.
The new NHS Test and Trace programme will ensure we keep making progress in easing the lockdown while continuing to keep the virus under control.
- Our five-part strategy is significantly increasing testing, meaning that testing has now been expanded to anyone over the age of 5, if they have symptoms, and all NHS and social care staff and care home residents, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.
- This new expansion of testing, made possible due to rapidly increasing testing capacity, will help protect our most vulnerable, our healthcare staff and keep people safe.
The Government has expanded testing so that anyone with symptoms can now get tested for Coronavirus – as we continue to scale up our capacity.
- From now, anyone with symptoms of Coronavirus, which will now include anosmia, is eligible for a test. If you are experiencing a loss of sense of smell or taste, a new, continuous cough, or a high temperature, you can book a test online by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
- After doubling lab capacity, setting up 50 regional test centres and 116 mobile testing units, and introducing home testing kits and 3 Lighthouse laboratories, the UK’s testing capacity continues to scale up towards 200,000 a day.
- These extra tests will help slow the spread of the virus, allow key workers to return to work safely, and give healthy people the peace of mind they need.
The global search for a vaccine
The Business Secretary has announced an additional £84 million to support scientists working to find a coronavirus vaccine, meaning up to 30 million doses could be available in the UK by the new year, if trials are successful.
- Scientists in the UK are at the forefront of the development of a vaccine for coronavirus, and yesterday we announced that the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre will open 12 months early.
- We will provide £65.5 million to support the vaccine being developed at Oxford University, and £18.5 million for Imperial College London, as trials accelerate. If the Oxford University vaccine is found to be successful, UK-based AstraZeneca will work to make 30 million doses available by September for people in the UK, as part of an agreement to deliver 100 million doses in total.
- Whilst we have to be realistic that a vaccine may take more time, and indeed, could never come to fruition, it is absolutely right that we are prepared to manufacture a vaccine at pace in this country, as we continue to lead the global response in the fight against coronavirus.