Covid winter plan: Work-from-home rules and face masks could be brought back

Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Guidance to work from home and the mandatory use of face masks could return in the Covid-19 winter plan due to be set out by Boris Johnson.

The prime minister will tell the nation on Tuesday how the country can learn to live with the virus, underlining how vaccinations will be a central part of the response to coronavirus in the coming months.

Covid laws that are no longer required will be ditched and plans for vaccine passports for nightclubs and other large crowd venues have been shelved.

The travel traffic lights system is also expected to be scrapped and PCR tests will no longer be required for fully vaccinated travellers.

Listen to the ITV News coronavirus podcast:

Coronavirus cases in the UK are currently higher than the levels of last Christmas, though vaccines have reduced the correlation between infections and deaths.

Ahead of the announcement, Boris Johnson refused to rule out a winter lockdown, only saying he was "very confident" in the steps the government has taken.

Meanwhile, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said some regulations may still be needed as the NHS prepares to battle both Covid and seasonal flu in the coming months.

Boris Johnson refuses to rule out a winter lockdown

Asked about work-from-home advice, she told BBC Breakfast of the need to keep some rules on the table, adding: “Whether that’s with what you just mentioned or making sure statutory sick pay can be paid from day one rather than day four, as tends to happen in more regular times.

“These are the sensible measures I think that we’re going to keep.”In England, government guidance to work from home was scrapped on July 19. Since then, it has been down to employers to decide whether to keep staff at home or in the office.

On the issue of mandatory face coverings, Ms Coffey added: “The prime minister will be setting out the Covid winter plan tomorrow. I think my approach, and I see that with a lot of employers’ organisations, is about having a situation-specific approach.”

It comes after Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday that vaccine passports were a “huge intrusion into people’s lives” and there were no current plans to go ahead with them.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

But Ms Coffey told ITV News the option is "still a lever we can pull in the future, we don't believe we need to mandate it as a government".

A decision has not yet been made by the UK’s chief medical officers on extending the Covid vaccination programme to healthy 12 to 15-year-olds.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has already said the margin of benefit is considered too small to support universal vaccination of healthy youngsters at this time.

Ms Coffey said the chief medical officers' decision will be made "as soon as possible".

Therese Coffey said if vaccines for 12 to 15-year-olds are approved, schools will be involved in the rollout

"What matters is that schools are set up already to anticipate if the decision is made to go ahead with this...if approved by ministers then in will become part of the standard vaccination process within schools," she said.

The Prime Minister was tight-lipped on whether or not he would rule out a winter lockdown.

Speaking on a visit to Leicester on Monday, Boris Johnson said: “We’ve got to do everything that’s right to protect the country.

“But the way things are going at the moment we’re very confident in the steps that we’ve taken."

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said another lockdown over winter would only be considered as a “last resort”.