What are the Plan B Covid rules for England and when could they be brought in?

Stricter rules on face coverings could return. Credit: PA

An NHS boss has warned the government must implement its 'Plan B' set of Covid rules for England immediately, or the country will face a "winter crisis".

Matthew Taylor, head of the NHS Confederation, said hospitals will be overwhelmed this winter if ministers fail to act now.

What is Plan B and what restrictions would return if it's brought in?

What is Plan B?

Plan B are measures the government set out to avoid a rise in Covid hospitalisations and deaths.

In September ministers outlined steps to tackle Covid in the coming months, including details of a Plan B if the situation worsens.

NHS boss Matthew Taylor says those plans need to come into force now

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What rules would return under Plan B?

The government said in September that Plan B could include:

  • Vaccine passports - which could be used for entry to large indoor events

  • The return of mandatory face coverings in some spaces

Mr Taylor is calling for further restrictions, including:

  • More working from home

  • Face coverings becoming mandatory again in more places

  • The public going "out of their way" to support and help the health service

  • Recruiting NHS volunteers and encouraging retired healthcare workers to re-enter the health service

And some health experts have said the following should be part of Plan B:

  • Speeding up the vaccine rollout

  • Encouraging teenagers and others who have had the jab to get fully vaccinated

Why might we need stricter measures?

There are currently five million people waiting to be treated on the NHS.

The NHS Confederation head said there is also “rocketing demand" for mental health services, ambulance services and primary care.

Mr Taylor warned that if Covid cases rise and more people are admitted to hospital with Covid, this could overwhelm the health service.

The comments come as the UK recorded its highest daily Covid death toll since March.

Hospital admissions for Covid have been on the rise and there has also been a rise in Covid cases in schools.

Covid test centres have been set up in schools and colleges. Credit: ITV News Anglia

What is the government saying?

The prime minister has said that the government's Plan A is to encourage people to get Covid booster jabs and flu jabs.

Boris Johnson said that if this doesn't stop "unsustainable pressure" on the NHS, ministers will roll out Plan B.

On Tuesday, the prime minister's spokesperson said there were currently "no plans" to move to the stricter Plan B measures.

More mask wearing and a faster vaccine rollout could be part of "plan B" to tackle Covid Credit: PA

When could Plan B come into play?

Downing Street said it would consider "a range of data" before deciding whether to trigger Plan B.

Professor Chris Whitty, the government's chief scientific adviser, said that new variants could trigger the government launching Plan B.

He said the country had not yet faced a winter with the "highly transmissible" Delta variant.

Professor Whitty said that "winter events" plus the Delta variant could lead to plan B being triggered.