COVID-19: Indoor mixing could be banned under two-week ‘circuit breaker’ to curb the spread of Omicron – reports | UK News


Authorities are drawing up plans for two weeks of “blackout” measures after Christmas, which would include a ban on indoor mixing, according to reports.

The claims come as Boris Johnson’s cabinet learns of the latest COVID data, officials expressing concern after three consecutive days of record number of cases.

However, a government source told Sky News that not enough is known about the impact of Plan B and the recall program – and downplayed discussions about a period of breaker-type restrictions.

“Anyway, if things get that bad, a circuit breaker wouldn’t be the kind of thing we’re looking at,” they said.

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What would a “circuit breaker” include?

Draft regulations are in the works that would ban meeting other people indoors, except for business purposes, and restrict restaurants and pubs to outdoor service only, according to the Times.

The Financial Times reported that the prime minister was offered a number of options under a so-called Plan C, ranging from “moderate advice to nudging, to lockdown.”

The newspaper quotes allies of Mr Johnson who have said he wanted to go the guideway, but had to be realistic about the threat of Omicron.

What “Plan C” restrictions might we see?

When could such measures be introduced?
More restrictions are needed within days to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by the Omicron wave, senior government scientists say.

Sky News understands that experts who produce advice for ministers believe there are now “hundreds of thousands” of infections every day, far more than the number of official cases recorded on the daily scoreboard.

A return to the measures we were living with in April would be necessary to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

Under Roadmap Stage 2 restrictions, locked pubs and restaurants could only serve outside tables and indoor mixing with other households was prohibited.

The source said the circuit breaker should last long enough that everyone can have a booster, building an additional wall of defense.

Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at the University of St Andrews and a member of SAGE, told Times Radio earlier that Plan B alone would not be enough to fight infections.

He said: “The only really, or at least the most effective, way to have an immediate effect is to decrease the number of contacts we have.

“In many ways, the most effective way to decrease contact is to have a circuit breaker.”

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Is there a plan C?

Is the recall program essential to avoid further action?

As cases increase, so do the number of booster shots administered across the UK.

Half of adults in the UK (over 26 million people) have now received a booster dose after the program ramped up this week, with online bookings open to all and walk-in sites attracting huge queues.

Venues include football stadiums, racetracks and Christmas markets, with 2,900 locations offering COVID vaccines over the weekend.

They include Wembley Stadium, the Christmas Ice Festival in Liverpool and the Bluewater Shopping Center in Kent.

People can organize their jabs online through the national reservation service or by calling 119, and GP offices also invite those who are eligible.

What events were canceled this weekend?

Will the Treasury react to help businesses?

With reports of new restrictions and Wales already announcing plans to close nightclubs, UK decentralized administrations have stepped up their demands for more cash support.

A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed on Friday that a Cobra meeting with decentralized nations would take place over the weekend.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also met with business leaders virtually after his early return from a trip to California.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We recognize how important the holiday season is to so many businesses and the government will continue to engage constructively on how best to provide continued support to businesses and organizations. affected sectors. “

Christmas shoppers stroll through central Cardiff where people have been urged to prepare for more restrictions in the coming weeks
Picture:
Christmas shoppers stroll through central Cardiff where people have been urged to prepare for more restrictions in the coming weeks

The prime minister has so far insisted the government is not planning another lockdown.

Asked about the mixed messages from Number 10 and his advisers regarding Christmas socialization, especially England’s chief medical officer, he said: “What Chris Whitty and I are saying is that there is a great wave of Omicron coming.

“People have to be careful. You have to think about your risk budget.”

Analysis by Thomas Moore, scientific correspondent

It’s hard to see how Plan B will put the brakes on Omicron.

The British Health Security Agency (UKHSA) estimates that each infected person transmits the virus to between three and five others.

And in some parts of the country, cases are doubling twice in just three days.

A return to work from home and wearing masks will prevent some opportunities for the virus to spread. But it is very unlikely that this will suffice.

In Scotland, businesses already need to take further action and the public is urged to limit gatherings to three households at a time.

And in Wales, nightclubs will close after Christmas, and social distancing and outdoor mixing is strongly encouraged.

In contrast, in England, the government preferred a lighter touch.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty this week told members of the Health Select Committee that tighter controls could only be justified if there was evidence of the seriousness of Omicron’s disease.

It could happen after Christmas, when the UKHSA predicts that 250 cases will be hospitalized – enough for a statistically significant comparison with the Delta variant.

But even though the risk of serious illness is lower than in previous waves, hospitals could still be overwhelmed due to the high rate of infections.

In which case what could Plan C involve?

Going back along the road map that got us out of lockdown in the spring seems likely.

Perhaps until stage 3, in May 2021, with a limit of six people meeting indoors, and the hospitality industry limited to table service indoors.

Or could the restrictions go further, go back to step 2, as was the case in April? This would mean that non-essential retail businesses could remain open, but pubs and restaurants could only serve tables outside and indoor mixing with other households was prohibited.

There is still a possibility that the peak in daily hospitalizations will be lower than the January record of 4,583.

Evidence from South Africa suggests that patients admitted with Omicron are less likely to need oxygen and stay in hospital half as long as in the Delta wave.

But admissions are already increasing in London, which has the highest Omicron rates in the country.

And scientists who model epidemics warn that a precautionary approach would be smart. Otherwise, there is a risk that the fate of hospitals will be sealed before it is time to act.

About Ethel Nester

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