Covid: Sajid Javid plays down need for ‘plan B’ restrictions as cases rise in parts of Europe

Sajid Javid has played down the need for the introduction of plan B Covid restrictions in England as parts of Europe reimpose measures in response to a surge in transmissions.

The health secretary suggested the government was sticking “firmly” with the existing plan A — concentrating on the rollout of booster jabs — but stressed that ministers remained “cautious, not complacent”.

Cases of Covid have been running at high levels since large swathes of restrictions were lifted in the summer, with the latest government figures showing over 40,000 new cases of the virus recorded on Saturday.

Pressed on Sky News whether whether the government should be “dusting off” its plan B measures, which include mandatory face coverings, working from home advice and domestic vaccine passports, Mr Javid emphasised the importance of the booster programme that was extended again this week.

He added: “We made a tough decision at the start of the summer – others countries didn’t follow our course — and we decided that of course we want to start opening up and if you’re going to do that it’s best to do it in the summer. Other countries in Europe didn’t do that.

“But in terms of any other potential measures, we’ve said all along that we’ve got Plan A, and that’s where we firmly are at the moment,” he stressed.

“If we needed to take further measures with Plan B then we would do so, but we’re not at that point.”

As some parts of mainland Europe experience an increase in infections — and the reimposition of lockdown in Austria — Mr Javid said: “As we all look forward to Christmas, it’s very sad to see cases surging in certain parts of Europe.

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“Now we’ve always known that this virus loves the winter, it likes the colder darker days that winter brings and we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect ourselves against that.

He added: “What’s made a real difference in the UK is our booster programme, our hugely successful booster programme.”

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