Plan B Covid rules: MPs approve vaccine passports in England - where will you need to show them?

141221 NHS Covid app, PA
Face coverings will be required in places of workship. Credit: PA

MPs have approved the government's 'Plan B' coronavirus restrictions for England, including the use of Covid passes from Wednesday.

Three separate votes were held in the Commons on Tuesday evening and although the prime minister suffered the two biggest rebellions of his premiership so far, Labour's backing meant all the proposals were passed.

Some of the votes were retrospective, meaning MPs were voting on measures which have already come into force.

Boris Johnson announced the plan B rules last week in a bid to stem rapidly rising cases of the new Omicron Covid variant.

So, here's what you need to know about the government's plan B rules, including where you'll need to show a Covid pass.

Mandatory Covid-status certificates in certain settings.

Covid passports will be required from Wednesday, December 15, in England in order to enter some indoor and larger outdoor venues.

This will include proof of vaccination or proof of a negative lateral flow test. The NHS Covid pass will act as a certificate, with exemptions for those unable to get jabbed.

Covid passports will be required for:

  • Access to nightclubs

  • Access to indoor events with more than 500 attendees, such as music venues

  • Access to outdoor settings with more than 4,000 people, such as music festivals

  • Access to all settings with more than 10,000 attendees, for example, sports stadiums.

Re-introducing the use of mandatory face coverings in more locations.

Face coverings must be worn on public transport in shops and in venues such as cinemas, theatres and places of worship.

It is not mandatory to wear a face covering in hospitality settings such as restaurants, pubs or gyms.

Bringing back work from home guidance

From Monday, December 13, people have been advised to work from home if they can in a bid to reduce the number of people they come into contact with and help stop Covid cases from rising.

Some workplaces are still operating work from home policies left over from the lockdowns of last year.

Mandatory vaccination for frontline NHS workers

By April 2022, frontline NHS workers must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to keep their jobs.

Is anything else changing?

From Tuesday December 14, daily testing has replaced isolation for those who come into contact with infected people.

However, if someone comes into contact with an individual who has tested positive for the Omicron variant, they must self-isolate at home for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status. Anyone who needs to isolate will be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace system.

Unvaccinated adults must continue to self-isolate for 10 days if they are a contact of someone with Covid-19.

What about the rest of the UK?

Health is a devolved matter, so the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own rules around Covid.

Currently in these three nations, people are already advised to work from home where possible and some form of vaccine passport is in operation for access to some indoor or larger venues.

What else can be done to lessen the impact of Omicron?

The booster jabs rollout has also been ramped up in a bid to provide people with as much immunity as possible against the Omicron variant.

On Tuesday, the health secretary said the government is "doing everything we can to speed up our booster programme" in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid.

“We know that boosters are our best weapon against the virus, and this change – informed by the clinical advice from the four UK CMOs and the independent regulator - will help the NHS get more jabs in arms more quickly to give people vital protection this winter," Sajid Javid added.

The government's has pledged that everyone eligible over-18 in England will be offered a booster vaccine by the end of the month.

Adults aged 30 and over can book one via the NHS website and from Wednesday, those aged 18 to 29 will be able to as well.

However, high demand has seen the website crash and struggle to cope with demand.