No winter lockdown this year as PM to rely on vaccines in Covid plan
The Prime Minister is reportedly “dead set” on avoiding another lockdown as he prepares to set out his plan for managing Covid-19 over autumn and winter.
Boris Johnson is expected to address the nation on Tuesday (14 September) to outline how vaccinations will serve as the country’s main defence against coronavirus during the colder months.
‘We need to learn to live with Covid’
Mr Johnson will tell the country that “this is the new normal - we need to learn to live with Covid”, according to a senior government source quoted by The Daily Telegraph.
A number of measures to control the virus are set to be loosened, with vaccines instead serving as the main defence.
The source said: “The vaccines are a wall of defence. The autumn and the winter do offer some uncertainty, but the Prime Minister is dead set against another lockdown."
Almost 81 per cent of people aged 16 and over are now fully vaccinated in the UK, according to data up to 12 September, while almost 90 per cent of people in this age bracket have received at least one vaccine dose.
The UK’s chief medical officers are due to advise the government on whether healthy children aged 12 to 15 should be offered a Covid-19 vaccine, after the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the benefit would only be marginal.
Mr Johnson is also expected to approve the rollout of booster jabs, although it is not yet clear who will be eligible to receive a third dose.
Vaccine passports scrapped
While vaccines are to serve as the main defence against Covid-19 over the colder months, the government confirmed that vaccine passports will no longer be introduced.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the plan to introduce the passports in England to gain entry to nightclubs and other venues with large crowds has been scrapped.
Mr Javid explained on Sunday (12 September) that there was a “whole toolbox” of measures in place to help control the spread of the virus, and that vaccine passports would not be one of them.
The announcement marked the latest coronavirus U-turn for the government, with the plans binned just days after ministers had defended the policy to sceptical MPs.
Mr Johnson had previously announced that members of the public would be required to show proof they are fully vaccinated to gain entry into clubs and other large-scale events in England.
However, following a backlash from Tory MPs, the plans have now been shelved.
It follows Downing Street confirming that some elements of the Coronavirus Act would be repealed, including those allowing the closing down of the economy, the imposing of restrictions on events and gatherings, the power to temporarily close or restrict access to schools, and powers to detain infectious people.
The Telegraph also reported that the traffic travel light system would be scrapped, the red list of countries would be reduced, and that PCR tests would not be needed for double vaccinated travellers.
Mr Javid said he wanted to get rid of PCR tests for travel “as soon as I possibly can”.
Asked whether ministers were removing too many measures designed to keep the public safe, Mr Javid said that the government should not be introducing coronavirus measures “just for the sake of it”.
The decision to scrap the plans for vaccine passports means Covid-19 measures in England again deviate from those in Scotland, where a motion on their introduction was passed in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday (9 September) and a decision is expected in Wales next week.
Stormont ministers have yet to reach an official position on using vaccine access passports within Northern Ireland.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that a “very targeted and limited system of vaccine certification… can help us reduce transmission in some higher-risk settings”.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, NationalWorld.