By Aditi Khanna
London, Sep 14 (PTI) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday warned that “COVID is still out there” as he set out his winter strategy for dealing with the pandemic without having to resort to further lockdowns.
Addressing a Downing Street press conference, he pointed to higher coronavirus case numbers than this time last year making things "actually more challenging" for the government. However, he said the success of the country’s vaccination programme meant that the easing of lockdown can continue, with a backup Plan B in place to reimpose some restrictions over time.
“Covid is still out there. The disease sadly still remains a risk. But I’m confident we can keep going with our plan to turn jabs jabs jabs into jobs jobs jobs,” said Johnson.
“We have higher levels of daily cases – thousands more. But in many other crucial respects, the British people – all of us collectively and individually – are incomparably better placed to fight the disease. We have more than 80 per cent of all over-16s now double jabbed, double vaccinated,” he said.
Referring to vaccine expansion plans announced earlier following expert advice, Johnson reiterated that the COVID vaccination drive will be intensified with jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds and a booster dose for over 50s.
“So that’s going to mean we’re going to be building even higher walls of immunisation of vaccine protection in this country,” he said.
Meanwhile, a range of “Plan B” measures will be kept under review to help control the transmission of the deadly virus while minimising economic and social damage. These include introducing mandatory vaccine-only COVID status certification or so-called COVID pass in certain, riskier settings of large gatherings and events and legally mandating face coverings in certain settings, such as public transport and shops. Under Plan B, if the threat of the deadly virus worsens, the government could also consider asking people to work from home again if necessary.
In essence, the UK's winter plan is "to keep going" with measures already underway unless a contingency Plan B is required at a later stage.
Updates on international travel rules are expected in the coming days, with some reports suggesting that the current traffic light system of red, amber and green lists – based on coronavirus infection rates in particular countries – will make way for a system linked with vaccination levels. PTI AK AMS