Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it is important to familiarise ourselves with the government’s plan B before potential restrictions are brought back. 

Asked on Friday about the possibility of a winter lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is “absolutely nothing to indicate that that is on the cards at all”.

Yet, on Monday Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this would be dependent on the public “playing their part”, such as getting jabs which is ‘Plan A’ of the government’s strategy.

Plan B involves restrictions that are designed to protect the NHS from "unsustainable pressure" according to the Government. 

For the NHS, it is important Covid hospitalisations are kept under control as winter is likely to bring sustained pressure from flu admissions, trips and falls, not to mention a need to sort out the backlog of patients they already have. 

Here are the three Covid restrictions that could come into effect in winter under plan B that you can prepare yourself for in advance. 

1) Mandatory face coverings in some settings – Don’t throw out your masks yet

Part of Plan B involves going back to wearing masks when indoors with others, particularly on public transport, in shops, supermarkets, and entertainment venues. 

At the moment it is recommended people continue to wear masks anyway, but this could be made mandatory in the winter months.

Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation (WHO) special envoy for Covid-19, said today that “everybody” should be wearing masks in close confinement with other people, “including our leaders”.

He urged MPs to wear masks during the Chancellor’s Budget speech tomorrow, but the Health Secretary Sajid Javid said yesterday that wearing a mask in the crowded chamber is a “personal decision” for ministers and backbenchers.

2) The introduction of vaccine passports – it’s not too late to get vaccinated

If you haven’t yet gotten your second Covid vaccine (or first) it may be worth doing so as vaccine passports may be introduced. 

The vaccine passport is accessed through the NHS App, rather than the track-and-trace app, and automatically updates when an individual has received a jab although this can take a couple of weeks to process. 

A QR code is generated when an individual has received both jabs, and this may be required to enter ‘high-risk’ and ‘mass gatherings’ such as concerts if Plan B is implemented.

This passport can expire, so it is also important to get a booster jab if you had your vaccine a long time a go. 

As part of Plan A Boris Johnson issued call to arms for anyone over 50 to have a booster jab when offered one. 

He said: “Vaccines are our way through this winter.”

“We’ve made phenomenal progress but our job isn’t finished yet, and we know that vaccine protection can drop after six months. 

“To keep yourself, your loved ones, and everyone around you safe, please get your booster when you get the call.”

Those aged 12-15 have also been called to get their vaccinations, with hopes that this will curb the level of infections in schools. 

3) Return to working from home - if you're not already doing so 

The SAGE committee has advised that working from home is one of the most effective measures for reducing transmission of the virus. 

As such, one of the measures of Plan B is for people to work from home where possible. 

This may not be a change at all for some, as many never returned to the office in the first place and are already working from home. 

In September a YouGov survey 79% of senior business leaders (out of 530 surveyed) and 70% of the general public (1684 surveyed)  believing it likely people will never return to the office at the same rate as before the pandemic.  

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