No immediate need for Plan B to tackle coronavirus, says Rishi Sunak

·3 min read
Rishi Sunak said: 'Our emphasis should be on making sure that everyone gets their booster jab' - Jeff Overs/BBC/AFP via Getty Images
Rishi Sunak said: 'Our emphasis should be on making sure that everyone gets their booster jab' - Jeff Overs/BBC/AFP via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has said there is no immediate need to implement Plan B measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

The Chancellor insisted that Covid data being monitored by the Government “does not suggest that we should be immediately moving to Plan B”.

However, he said: ”Of course, we will keep an eye on that and the plans are ready.”

‘There is a Plan B if we need it’

If Plan B were to be implemented, new measures would include the introduction of vaccine passports at higher-risk venues and mass gatherings, as well as the legal requirement to wear face masks in some scenarios.

Asked on the Andrew Marr Show whether people should consider working from home in order to stop the virus spreading, Mr Sunak added: "The data at the moment does not suggest that that is immediately necessary and our emphasis should be on making sure that everyone gets their booster jab.

"The Plan B that we set out does not involve the same type of very significant economic restrictions that we saw previously.

"There is a Plan B if we need it. As of this date, it doesn't suggest that we need it today but, if that changes, then of course the Government will be ready to act. That's why those plans are there."

Labour backs Covid restrictions

It comes as Labour backed the immediate introduction of greater coronavirus restrictions.

Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, said Labour had already backed mandatory mask-wearing on public transport and in shops, as well as encouraging staff to work from home again.

Ms Reeves said: "Labour, as a responsible opposition, have always said that we would follow the science.

“We've seen today that Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) are saying that some aspects of Plan B, like wearing masks on public transport and in shops and also working from home more flexibly, should be introduced.”

She called on the Government to get Plan A “working better”, while introducing parts of Plan B.

However, she said: “There are also things not in A or B that need to be done, like paying statutory sick pay from day one and better ventilation in public spaces.”

Rachel Reeves said Plan A needs to be 'working better' - Jeff Overs/BBC
Rachel Reeves said Plan A needs to be 'working better' - Jeff Overs/BBC

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, told Times Radio on Thursday that the party was in favour of Plan B - only for Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, to later say the debate over whether to follow Plan A or Plan B was the "wrong focus".

However, on Sunday, Ms Reeves confirmed that Labour did in fact back moving to Plan B.

Asked directly whether Plan B should be introduced now, she said: "Yes, but let's not let the Government off the hook with Plan A either."

‘Plan A is where we need to be’

Meanwhile Maggie Throup, the Vaccines Minister, insisted Plan A was "working" and "where we need to be".

When asked on LBC how Covid-19 cases were going to be brought down, she said: "I think everybody is aware that we've got the autumn and winter plan, and part of that is Plan A and part is Plan B, so it would be remiss of us not to have contingencies.

"But the data right now shows that Plan A is where we need to be, and we look at the data day in, day out, and that is showing that Plan A is where we need to be with the vaccination programme."

Ms Throup said she thought that Plan A “has actually opened up people's lives”.

She added: “That's so important because if we do need to take further measures, I'm sure they'll have appreciated exactly the freedoms we've been able to offer them at this time.”

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