Plan b

Will the public take Plan B seriously?

After holding strong for two weeks, fears over the Omicron variant look set to change the government’s course on Covid restrictions. Reports this morning suggest that Plan B could be implemented as early as tomorrow, including advice to work from home and — more controversially — the introduction of vaccine passports. The timing is interesting: rumours about the possible decision landed hours after a video clip — showing the Prime Minister’s former press secretary joking about last year’s alleged Downing Street Christmas party with No. 10 aides — was leaked. Downing Street still adamantly denies the party took place. Many are wondering if this is a ‘dead cat’ strategy: one that

Why are Covid cases going down?

Imagine if the government had taken notice of the assorted scientists who, a couple of weeks ago, were imploring them to immediately enact ‘Plan B’ and reintroduce measures such as compulsory mask-wearing, working from home and limits on gatherings. The current dip in new Covid cases would be heralded as a sign of the success of the policy, and there would be calls for new lockdowns, or semi-lockdowns to control Covid infection numbers in the winter. Something similar happened back in July when some scientific opinion was in favour of delaying the full reopening of the economy and society. At the time, professor Neil Ferguson warned that infection numbers would

The staggering cost of ‘Plan B’

Finally, the government is modelling the cost (and benefits) of lockdown restrictions. The introduction of vaccine passports, mandatory face masks and work-from-home advice would cost between £11 billion and £18 billion according to a leaked assessment of the so-called ‘Plan B’. And while all this may reduce the spread of the virus at large events by as much as 45 per cent, only a small part (between 2 and 13 per cent) of Covid transmission takes place in such venues — so the extra restrictions would, at most, cut levels of the virus by 5 per cent nationally. The document has been leaked to the Politico website and assumes ‘Plan