Work-from-home guidance, vaccine passports and more mask rules as Boris Johnson announces Plan B Covid restrictions

Work-from-home guidance will return, vaccine passports will become mandatory in large venues and mask rules will be extended to combat the Omicron variant as Boris Johnson announced a move to his Plan B to tackle coronavirus.

Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 6:57 pm

Work-from-home guidance will return, Covid health certificates will become mandatory in large venues and mask rules will be extended to combat the Omicron variant as Boris Johnson announced a move to his Plan B to tackle coronavirus.

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 to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Johnson said that guidance to work from home where possible will return from Monday, and mandatory mask wearing will be extended to public places like cinemas and theatres from Friday.

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The NHS Covid pass will be mandatory in nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather from “a week’s time”, the Prime Minister told a hastily-arranged Downing Street press conference, as he described the measures as “proportionate and responsible”.

But Mr Johnson faced questions over how the public can accept his rules amid anger over allegations Downing Street staff broke Covid rules in a Christmas party last year.

Simultaneously in the Commons, Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned there are 568 cases of Omicron confirmed but that the true figure is estimated to be “probably closer to 10,000”.

But he also faced heckles of resign as he updated MPs on the new restrictions, which he said would be reviewed on January 5.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions on December 8. Picture: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images.

Mr Johnson said the mask guidance would include exemptions for when eating, drinking, exercising or singing.

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

The Prime Minister added that the pass 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”.

In the Commons, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said there are 568 cases of Omicron confirmed but that the true figure is estimated to be “probably closer to 10,000”.

He was heckled by Tory colleagues as he updated MPs about the new restrictions, with William Wragg (Hazel Grove) heard shouting “resign” when he confirmed the introduction of Covid certification based on vaccines or tests in nightclubs and large events.

As Mr Javid said the measures were not something ministers wanted to take, shouts of “rubbish” and “what a load of old tripe” could be heard in the chamber.

When Mr Javid announced an extension of the legal requirement for face coverings, Labour MPs pointed at some Tory MPs who were not wearing them in the chamber.

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