Mayor of West Yorkshire has her say on the introduction of Plan B to stop Omicron spread

Work-from-home guidance will return, Covid health certificates are to become mandatory in large venues and mask rules will be extended to combat the Omicron variant as part of the Plan B measures announced by Boris Johnson.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 1:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th December 2021, 1:37 pm

The Prime Minister warned it is clear the new strain is “growing much faster” than Delta, and cases of Omicron could be doubling every two or three days as he strengthened England’s rules.

Mr Johnson said Christmas parties and nativities could go ahead, but urged people to “exercise due caution” and get their booster jabs as he came under pressure over allegations of a rule-breaching festive bash in No 10 last year.

Reacting the announcement Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “In order to slow transmission of the Omicron variant and COVID-19, I would urge everyone in West Yorkshire to follow the new rules and do your bit in order to slow transmissions and keep those who are most vulnerable safe.

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Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire

“The move to Plan B once again highlights the urgent need for people to take up the vaccine and their booster when invited, as this is the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community. Here in West Yorkshire, our cases remain highest in younger people, so I would like to take this opportunity to make a plea for them to follow advice and get vaccinated too.

“I want to say a heartfelt thank you to the those on the frontline and working in the emergency services, including the scientists, doctors, nurses, carers supermarket staff. You have all made us proud and we appreciate everything you do and continue to do for us.

“I would also like to pay tribute the people of West Yorkshire and the sacrifices they have made throughout the past 20 months. I know that people have given up so much, but I would urge them to listen to these rules, and not to lose sight of what is important. We must continue to stick together and do what is right.

“The news from the Government is not what any of us wanted and I understand that this will cause anxiety among our businesses, especially those working in hospitality and the night-time economy. I will therefore be seeking urgent clarification from government on what - if any - support will be available.”

The Prime Minister announced the move to Plan B at a press conference on Wednesday.

He said: “The best way to ensure we all have a Christmas as close to normal as possible is to get on with Plan B, irritating though it may be it is not a lockdown.

“We don’t want nativity plays to be cancelled, we think it’s okay currently on what we can see to keep going with Christmas parties but obviously everybody should exercise due caution.”

The measures set to come into force are:

Mandatory mask wearing will be extended to indoor public venues including cinemas, theatres and places of worship from Friday but will not be required in pubs and restaurants

The guidance to work from home where possible will return on Monday.

The NHS Covid pass, which can be obtained by having two vaccines or a negative lateral flow test, will be introduced for entry into nightclubs and other large venues from 15 December

Covid health certificates will apply to unseated indoor venues with more than 500 attendees, and outside where there are more than 4,000 people.

The Prime Minister said passes can be obtained with a negative lateral flow test or by having had two doses of a vaccine, but hinted this could change by saying “we will keep this under review as the boosters roll out”.

How long will the measures be in place for?

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the new restrictions would be reviewed on 5 January, before their expiry date of 26 January.

Mr Javid said the new restrictions were being imposed “with a heavy heart” but insisted they were necessary as he said there are 568 cases of Omicron confirmed in the UK, but that the true figure is estimated to be “probably closer to 10,000”.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) warned Omicron is spreading “rapidly” and it is possible hospital admissions from the new variant in England could exceed 1,000 per day – and still be increasing – by the end of the year.

“The overall scale of any wave of hospitalisations without interventions is highly uncertain, but the peak could reach several times this level,” the minutes from a meeting held on Tuesday said.